Aaron Chambers (most recently of Boulud Sud in New York City) has been at the Mandarin Oriental since December, preparing for the switch from Asana to Bar Boulud, where he'll be chef de cuisine. Eater caught up with Chambers and Daniel Boulud at the Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Gala at Menton last week and chatted about the upcoming restaurant. Here's what Chambers had to say about his first months in Boston and what comes next. (And here's Boulud's interview, in case you missed it.)
Welcome to Boston! How long have you been in town now?
I moved up mid-November with my wife and my son. We wanted to get settled and take our time before I started.
Had you been to Boston before?
I have relatives who live in Swampscott, so we come up to see them, but apart from that...a few Red Sox games, and that's it.
How has it been going for you in the kitchen?
I've been in the kitchen learning — well, not so much in the kitchen — but getting to learn the hotel. I come from a restaurant background; I have worked in hotels but primarily restaurants for the last five-and-a-half years. So it's getting back into the hotel mentality of how things work, how things operate. There's a system for everything. There's a purchaser, for example; it's not me calling for everything. So I've just been getting used to all of those systems.
How did it come to be that you were the one to make the move to Boston? Were you looking for a change, or did it just fall into your lap?
A few different reasons. I opened Boulud Sud over two-and-a-half years ago. I was not getting complacent, but I was at the end of Boulud Sud. I love Boulud Sud; it's like my baby, and I worked with Daniel, and it was a pleasure to work there, but I needed something else. And my wife and I just had a baby boy, so I was not sleeping, thinking maybe it's time to move out of the city and start settling down. Boston was a big draw because of where my wife's from. I'm originally from England, and my parents are in England, and we don't want to move to England quite yet. Boston was the next best thing, and Daniel obviously wanted to come to Boston as well, so it worked out really well for both of us.
How have you found the food here so far? Have you eaten anything particularly memorable?
I haven't delved into dining out yet. I'm waiting, kind of just getting settled at home and getting settled at work, and it's a little cold out. Six-day weeks kind of takes it out of you, so Sundays I try to relax with the family, but it's coming. I'm excited to eat out and find out what this city's about.
What kind of a meal would you typically cook on a day at home with the family?
I'm huge into pasta right now. I'd just make some homemade cavatelli or some chitarra pasta. I'm big into pasta at home — kind of comfort food.
What can you say about the restaurant at this point? How much will it look like the other locations of Bar Boulud?
We have the same designer as London, Adam Tihany, so it's going to be similar in style, but I don't think it's going to be exactly the same. The property in London is also in the Mandarin, so I do think we're going to play off that a little bit, so any menu or anything like that is going to be in that style for now. Nothing's set in stone and nothing's written yet, but I'm sure Daniel wants to keep the charcuterie and the flow of everything else.
Do you think that Boston diners are going to be very receptive to the concept?
I think they are. I think the Bar Boulud concept in Boston is going to be a great fit. I think people are going to love it. It's a little more casual than a lot of restaurants these days, and I think it's very open to a different spectrum of people. You can come there and spend $500 for two, or you can come there and spend maybe $100 for two, so it's offering many levels.
What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge for you, moving into this new role?
Marrying the restaurant spirit with the hotel, because the hotel is established. It runs in a certain way, and obviously restaurants are a different style, so we're trying to bring the hotel and the restaurant together and marry the two so that we still have the look, the feel, the experience of a restaurant, and yet you're in a five-star hotel.
What are you most excited for?
Opening! Openings are very stressful; I'm going to get a few more gray hairs, but it's exciting to open a restaurant.
· All coverage of Bar Boulud on Eater [~EBOS~]