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Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef Dieter Samijn of Bar Boulud on the UWS

Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef Dieter Samijn of Bar Boulud on the UWS

Dieter Samijn never knew he wanted to be a Chef growing up. Born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium, he began his career as an Electrician after graduating from The Technical School of Duffel in Belgium. He quickly realized this was not his destined path and decided to follow in his younger sister's foot steps to hospitality school, Hotelschool Ter Duinen in Koksijde in Belgium, where he learned to become a diverse chef.

Following his training at Hotelschool Ter Duinen, where he won an award for Best Belgian Cheese Maître d`Hotel, Dieter worked with world-renowned Chef Alain Ducasse around Europe for two years, specifically at Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Commis at Plaza Athenee in Paris, Spoon des Neiges in Gstaad, Switzerland serving as Tournant, then finally returning to Le Louis XV as Commis de Cuisine.

After learning from one of the most respected French Chefs, Dieter moved back to Belgium and worked at Restaurant Hof Van Cleve for four years. There he served as Chef de Partie and moved his way up to Sous Chef. Here he ran the kitchen, focused on menu development and organized private parties. Restaurant Hof Van Cleve has a special place in Dieter's heart as he feels it was the restaurant that made him a real Chef. The restaurant received three Michelin stars when he was on the team.

Dieter's life took a professional turn when he entered the world of catering, working as the Executive Chef and General Manager for Delicious Catering in Oostkamp, Belgium. After catering high-end events for four years, Dieters decided he wanted to return to restaurants and move to the United States.?He served as the Executive Chef and General Manager at B Too in Washington D.C., a Belgian Inspired restaurant By Bart Vandaele, for four years. In addition to running the restaurant, he taught master classes in at L`Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg MD, for aspiring professional chef students.

Now Dieter spearheads the kitchen as the Executive Chef at Daniel Boulud's Upper West Side French bistro, Bar Boulud. Dieter respects classic French cuisine and is excited to develop hearty meat dishes with seasonal ingredients for the menu.

When he is not in the kitchen, he spends time with his wife and two young children, cycling in Central Park, or riding his motorcycle around town. Chef Dieter is fluent in the Dutch, English and French. had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Dieter about his career and Bar Boulud for our "Chef Spotlight."

What was your earliest interest in cooking?

When I was 15, I started working as a server in restaurants and hotels. I worked because I wanted a motorcycle and my dad told me if I wanted it, I'll have to work to get it. So, while working in a restaurant, I started to get really interested in cooking. The chef was so passionate about his work and he shared his secrets on how to make a variety of dishes such as white asparagus. It completely gauged my interest and a month later I was working in the kitchen.

Who were some of your career mentors?

During my career I worked in full service restaurants, event catering, and butchering. In each of these different food service businesses, I learned different aspects of the industry. In the beginning of my career, I worked for Alain Ducasse for three years. Then I worked at an event catering company where I was the first-time executive chef and the owner Arne Dacquin, had a full-service marketing company. Arne thought me that everything you do needs to have its market. We did large and small events for companies where the food needed to match the concept of the company. We won several awards.

Then I moved to the USA. I missed restaurant life and became chef at B Too in Washington D.C., where I worked with Bart Vandaele. I was lucky that he showed me how to run a financially healthy restaurant, controlling food and payroll costs. If you want to become a chef, it's essential to work for a chef like Bart, who takes the time and shares the knowledge of what is behind running a restaurant. Then, about a year ago I joined Daniel Boulud`s Bar Boulud in NYC. What I've found to be really inspiring, is that he lets you understand that anything you put on the menu must have a reason.

What culinary styles have influenced your career?

After I worked for Alain Ducasse I went back to Belgium, I started working at Hof Van Cleve, what was a much more progressive and modern European style of food, it influenced me, and let me think outside the box, but it let understand that cooking can be versatile. During my travels through Asia, Europe and the USA, I learned that cooking French cuisine is what I love the most, that's why I joined Daniel Boulud at Bar Boulud.

What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?

To everything I make I want to make sure there is a level of acidity in the food, it makes it nice to eat. Everyone is always talking about Umami but I really believe acidity in food makes it happen.

We have a Veal calf's head on the menu; the meat is rich, for some too rich, but if you eat it with a sauce that brings acidity to the dish it's pleasant to eat.

What is your favorite meal?

A Mediterranean fish soup. I love the saltiness, the little spice and hints acidity in it. I almost never make it myself though.

Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.

Bar Boulud is traditional, we serve French rustic fare, with a fantastic charcuterie program, Lyonnaise specialties, but also approachable menu items. We serve dishes that reminds Daniel Boulud of his childhood.

Bar Boulud is located at 1900 Broadway (at 64th Street) New York, NY 10023. Visit: or call them at 212.595.0303.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bar Boulud

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