Jim Leiken Is the Next Star From Boulud's Chef Stable

jim leiken

"Imagine youre a soft-shell crab. How would you want to be cooked?"Photo: Melissa Hom

Name: Jim Leiken

Age: 33

Restaurant: DB Bistro Moderne

Background: A local product (he grew up in Scarsdale), Leiken worked with Mike Anthony at March, and later opened Tablas Bread Bar as head cook. Another spell at March under Wayne Nish led to three years at Daniel, where he worked every station in what amounted to a fine-dining graduate program. He's currently executive sous chef (the equivalent to chef de cuisine) at DB Bistro Moderne.

Why hes a comer: The Daniel Boulud stable is a veritable success factory look no further than Gavin Kaysen, of Caf Boulud, who was just nominated for a James Beard Award as a rising star. Leiken is the latest Boulud prodigy to be promoted from within to a leadership position in his case, Bouluds still-unnamed hamburger restaurant on the Bowery. "People respect him and like him in the kitchen," says Olivier Muller, Leiken's boss at DB Bistro. "He's very New York, but also calm. He just has the leadership personality a good chef needs."

Self-described style: When I look at an ingredient. I think about how I would like to eat it. Or I think of it this way: Imagine youre a soft-shell crab. Imagine youre a striped bass. How would you want to be cooked? What makes sense in a classical way with the ingredient?

Judge him by: I really like the Nantucket-bay scallops, the chef says. Thats mine. Theyre very clean flavors, very simple. And the garnish makes sense. Its a winter dish, and were using fresh celery root and winter citrus blood orange. Everything works well together and just speaks nicely.

Guesstimated time of arrival: Ive been in the business a while, says Leiken. Ive had a few offers, but Ive been holding out. Im very loyal to Daniel. Opening a Daniel Boulud restaurant is a feather in the cap of any chef.

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