I wanted to take this space and time to celebrate a gentleman who is deeply important to our restaurant group: Pierre Siue. This Tuesday, June 18th, is the 18th anniversary of his beginning at Restaurant DANIEL. Starting as a food runner, he worked up all the way to General Manager, a position he held for over a decade. Last year, he was promoted to Director of Operations for Dinex – now sharing his passion for hospitality across many of our restaurants.
I recently sat down with Pierre, to discuss Dinex, DANIEL, and 18 years at one of the most important restaurants in the world:
Pierre visited NYC and the USA for the first time in 1996, telling his mother—on top of the Empire State Building—that he would be back one day to work in New York. After his required military service, Pierre visited NYC again in February 2001 to seek employment and someone to sponsor his visa. Easy to forget now, these were the days of no internet, no Instagram, and Pierre (knowing restaurants were his place, hospitality his role) landed in NYC seeking a sponsor, using the Relais & Châteaux Guide (as well as the Zagat) to find a great restaurant within which to thrive. He remembers most visits simply being the handing over of a résumé, nothing more. When he walked through the doors of DANIEL, Bernard Vrod took time to share the space: he walked Pierre around, welcomed him throughout the restaurant, giving a tour and taking time to speak with him, to showcase why DANIEL was a place of repute. It was this instance that opened Pierre’s eyes, and, once back in France, he continued to fax his résumé to Daniel Boulud until Chef’s Personal Assistant reached out, and the relationship was born.
He sat at Table 86 speaking with Michael Lawrence (GM of DANIEL then, now our Executive Director of Operations) on Friday, June 15th. His first day live was the following Monday, June 18th.
It was in many ways a trickle-down effect—perhaps fate—which led Pierre to this path. When his Grandmother moved from Vietnam to Paris, she ran a fairly fancy Vietnamese restaurant and was a pillar of their community. She was one of the very few there who already spoke French, and she was a true Matriarch: catering to everyone, bridging communications, welcoming and sharing warmth with all. That same selfish-less sense carried over to Pierre’s mother, who always put herself last, in order to raise her two children and ensure their happiness and success. As Pierre puts it – “Growing up, I always thought I was a privileged kid, even though I wasn’t.” She instilled the strength and perfectionism that Pierre carries with him to this day, even while ensuring her children felt as if they had the world.
Chef Daniel once shared a story with Pierre, some years after his growth within the Dinex Group. He told of his time as an apprentice at Paul Bocuse, and how Chef Paul was the pinnacle of hospitality, welcoming Daniel, treating him with respect and kindness, excited merely to learn about who this new youngster was. This anecdote mirrored Pierre’s own first day at DANIEL: he recalls walking up to the pass and an intense-looking Asian man coming around it, directly for him. Pierre thought he was somehow already in trouble. Instead, after ascertaining that this new hire couldn’t speak much English, Executive Chef Alex Lee switched to French, and pulled young Pierre aside, asking him of his background, of his interests, as well as feeding him. This interaction left a deep impression, and is a perfect example of what makes Daniel Boulud and his Dinex Group so special. Over his time here, Pierre has come to understand that within these restaurants, people are not just employees: they are family, constant companions in a difficult, challenging world.
When life challenged Pierre, those close to him were there, in more ways than he ever expected. As he burgeoned, he began to draw the connections between his two Matriarchal influences and his newfound father figure. It all centers around the table, around food and sharing and the skill of making any and all feel welcome. Pierre recalled to me the first time he had a smaller meal with Chef Daniel, in Chicago with only three others, about a year-and-a-half after his start at DANIEL. He was an Assistant Captain then, and stressed and nervous about being at the same table with Chef. Suddenly, as food began to come to the table, Daniel got up and served his employees, making sure their plates and glasses were full. Here Pierre was, worried about the impression he’d make, and Daniel was being effortlessly hospitable, a gift our Chef possesses that is at the foundational core of our restaurant group.
In the end, it is food and hospitality that unites us, that may bridge diversity and bring happiness to all. I have had the pleasure of seeing Pierre move around the dining room at Restaurant DANIEL, his eyes flitting to all tables, seeing him anticipate a guest’s needs before they themselves know it. It is an amazing thing to see, and that perfectionist, sometimes difficult (by his own admission) attitude has contributed to the growth of many a great individual within Dinex. It is an honor and a pleasure to know Pierre. He told me that, in the end, it is Daniel Boulud’s “curiosity for life…knowing that the devil is in the details” that makes our Chef’s hospitality so contagious and inspirational. I must say that Pierre himself is a stalwart example of this, as well.
So, in Pierre’s honor, this Tuesday we’ll pour a fabulous wine from his inaugural NYC vintage, 2001 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Pierre told me that Burgundy and the Rhône were early wine loves of his, particularly as they were more affordable on his student budget at the time. I thought nothing better than pouring him a glass of this wine, out of magnum, on a special day. Please come celebrate at our table, sharing great Rhône wine and great Rhône food, in honor of Pierre. Santé!
Côtes du Roussillon Villages ‘Vieilles Vignes’ 2013
TUESDAY – PIERRE CELEBRATION
Château de Beaucastel,
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley 2001
Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine, Loire Valley 2015
THURSDAY, FRIDAY & SATURDAY
Domaine Claire Naudin,
Aligoté ‘Le Clou 34’, Burgundy 2017
Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy 2017