Bocuse Replaces Escoffier at the CIA

Culinary school restaurant catches up with the times

The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York, closed the Escoffier Restaurant, the formal, classic temple of haute cuisine last year. It has been replaced with the Bocuse Restaurant, a more contemporary French restaurant where perfection is no less revered.

The new $3 million Bocuse Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America.
The new $3 million Bocuse Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America.

French chef Paul Bocuse, a Michelin three-star chef since 1965 who was also named the CIA’s 2011 “Chef of the Century” (though it is not clear which century, the 20th or the 21st), came to the US late last month for the debut of the new namesake restaurant. The journey was not easy for the renowned 87-year-old chef who reportedly did not hesitate to cross the Atlantic for the launch of the Bocuse Restaurant. As always donning his chef’s hat and apron, Bocuse was surrounded by such superstars of names in French cuisine in the US — Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, and Thomas Keller and his son Jerome, who runs Walt Disney World’s Les Chefs de France restaurant at Epcot.

Paul Bocuse, a pioneer of nouvelle cuisine and owner of the much-honored l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges near Lyon, spoke about the future of French cuisine to a packed audience of about a thousand people. “All cuisines are created equal, be they French, Italian, Chinese or American,” said Bocuse, while also pointing France’s unique assets such as being “a huge aquarium, a huge orchard and a huge vineyard.”

The evening’s dinner for about 100 guests was prepared by some 50 students in the kitchen and two dozen in the dining room. The menu included a peach of foie gras, lobster with champagne and caviar and filet mignon of beef with marrow custard. And for dessert, the guests were treated to grapefruit sorbet with vodka, a plate of three chocolates by pastry chef Gaston Lenôtre.

“It’s wonderful,” the guest of honor was quote as saying. “These 3,000 [CIA] students who will introduce Bocuse cuisine to guests each year” and work on a menu adapted from his concepts and other French dishes. “After me, there are still many very good chefs, so we still have some great moments ahead. Yesterday, we were with a group of friends in France and today, we’re with a group of friends around the world.”

The Bocuse Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday when classes are in session. It is one of CIA Restaurantss, 1946 Campus Drive, Hyde Park, NY 12538;  845-471-6608,

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