Made In China

Learning to tell the difference between forks, where to find fresh basil and how to say mis en place in Mandarin are not your typical Olympic training...

Sourcing the ingredients has been the task of Boulud's on-site executive chef, Brian Reimer, who has spent the past seven months in Beijing. Not only has he faced a language barrier — "I've learned a lot of things thus far, but Chinese has not been one of them," says Reimer, who relies on a Chinese sous chef-slash-translater — but he admits that opening a restaurant in China has presented unique difficulties. "Everything you take for granted in the U.S. has been a challenge," says Reimer. "You don't know what to expect here, and no matter how much time you have to plan, it's never enough."

Meanwhile, manager Ignace Lecleir has been working with the mostly Chinese staff to meld Western etiquette with local custom. "We wanted the restaurant to be run by the people who live here," explains Lecleir, who spent the last three years managing Boulud's Manhattan flagship, Daniel. "Since personality was as important as past experience, we even hired people who had never worked in a restaurant before." That meant intensive service training, with everything from hours of modeling lessons to screenings of the cartoon movie "Ratatouille."

Luckily, Boulud himself will be on hand to make sure the official July opening and the Olympics rush go smoothly. Then it's off to his next international project, in Vancouver, where this fall he will take over the management of the famed Lumière and open a DB Bistro Moderne next door. "I have spent 25 years serving my clients in New York City," he says. "That foundation, built on the trust I have earned from my guests, is what makes it possible for me to go out into the world and explore new endeavors."
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