Born and raised on a farm in Saint-Remy, France, Antoine Bouterin grew up watching his grandmother, Marguerite, cook like an alchemist. He would watch her transform practically nothing, into a sublime and succulent dish.
The cooking of Provence is scented with thyme, basil and rosemary, all mixed with the heavenly perfume of garlic and parsley. Those sweet smells drew him into the kitchen. Chef Bouterin’s great style came from a tough apprenticeship, followed by the traditional trip through French kitchens. He started not too far from his family’s farm, at the two-star La Riboto de Tavern in Les Baux-de-Provence. He then worked at a number of Relais Chateau & Gourmands multi- starred restaurants on the Mediterranean before ending up at the kitchen of Great Chef Charles Berot’s L’Escale near Marseilles. There he learned more about fish cookery than any academy could have taught him.
In 1980, Chef Bouterin came to the U.S. as a chef on tour with Paris’ La Varenne Cooking School, demonstrating French cooking in New York, Ohio, Texas, and California. By the end of that trip, his course was set, he’d fallen in love with America.
In 1982 he became the executive chef of Le Perigord and in 1994, we met with chef to discuss filming for the Great Chefs series. He confided, as many chefs have, that he was leaving to open his new restaurant “Bouterin” on 59th Street, under the bridge. In 1995, Great Chefs taped him for their Great Chefs – Great Cities series. Twelve years later, in 2007, he closed that restaurant, only to return to Le Perigord for another two years, but he wasn’t eager to stay. Then, one of his customers, Archbishop Timothy Dolan asked if he would be interested in cooking at St. Patrick’s, an offer he couldn’t refuse.
As we enter 2016, check out the photo of Archbishop Dolan, with singer Tony Orlando and Commissioner Ray Kelly enjoying chef Bouterin’s food at St Patrick’s in New York City.