FORTUNE -- Chef Daniel Boulud has a beautiful office. The walls sport pictures of the chef with celebrities, the wooden shelves are full of perfectly spaced awards and trophies, and, perhaps most importantly, its huge windows allow whoever is inside to monitor the bustle of his flagship venue, Daniel, in Manhattan.
The restaurant is Boulud's home, quite literally. He has an apartment above it. And though he has opened several other restaurants in Manhattan, this one is the heart of his prestigious culinary career. The restaurant has received three coveted Michelin stars and a four-star rating from the New York Times, among other awards. Boulud, 57, has also won recognition for his talents as a chef and restaurateur from the James Beard Foundation and the Culinary Institute of America.
Because of his prowess in the kitchen, his job titles have grown and now include entrepreneur, book author, consultant, and celebrity. But here, he talks to Fortune about the basics and why he can still fillet a fish with the best of them.
Fortune: What goes through the mind of a top-tier chef?
Daniel Boulud: I believe that a great chef has to worry about more than cooking. I mean I may have to worry about other things in the business but still, cooking remains the thing that will give me the most comfort and happiness. It is my refuge.
After all this time, you still love it?
Yeah, well, what else am I going to do? I hate accounting. I do like service, taking care of the customer, the guest relations, and the public relations. But, I mean, I do it because someone has to do it and because I'm the brand and the image, but I'd rather stay in the kitchen all the time and not bother.
I do it so my chefs can keep cooking. I could do their job any time, except I have other jobs to fulfill.
How do you manage such a full kitchen, full of smart people with different ideas?
Everybody has talent, for sure, to be associated with us and to work at this level. We definitely share our ideas, but I can veto everything. Sometimes I love it, and sometimes I hate it. And if I hate it, it doesn't mean that it's not good, it's just not me, that's all. More
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