Nicolas Houlbert is the executive chef of Bluebird London New York, the first U.S. restaurant from London-based restaurant and hospitality group, D&D London. A native of France, Houlbert moved to New York in 2015 to work for acclaimed Chef and Restaurateur Daniel Boulud as executive chef at both Bar Boulud and Epicerie Boulud. Under Boulud, Houlbert utilized his extensive classical French training while developing a keen understanding of the American palate.
Inspired by both his childhood in France and his more recent travels around the world, Houlbert’s cuisine marries classic French technique with modern flavors. His dishes speak for themselves, highlighting fresh and local ingredients through simple yet refined preparations. At Bluebird, Houlbert incorporates classic British flavors into his menu to create a cuisine that is true to both his own culinary identity and the identity of the Bluebird brand.
What do you love most about Your City?
Whether in NY for a year or a lifetime, there is always something new to discover. I also love the cultural diversity of this city and believe that anything is possible here.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
I currently love avocado toast with lightly scrambled eggs and good crispy bacon. A breakfast like that keeps me going for hours. The Sullivan Street Bakery is one of my favorite places to grab something simple and delicious for breakfast.
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – I am drinking my espresso and am out the door by 6:05 to catch the bus.
10:00 AM – By this time I am working on menu items, doing paperwork, trainings with my team, and getting ready for the lunch service.
12:00 PM - Favorite Power Lunch spot/meal?
Chefs do not always get to eat at typical meal times, so I usually eat something on the run before the service or after. When I have time to eat somewhere, I still love a pastrami sandwich from Katz’s deli. It was one of the first sandwiches I tried when I came to New York and it left quite an impression.
7:00 PM – I am in the kitchen, leading the dinner service.
11:00 PM – At this time I am usually leaving work or on the bus checking emails and organizing myself for the next day.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
I start every day with one espresso to give me a little boost, but water is the drink that keeps me feeling refreshed throughout the day. At night I like to have one small glass of good whiskey or just a glass of red wine.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
The app I use most is Instagram. It’s a great way to keep up with other chefs and see what is going on in the culinary world. Eric Ripert’s Instagram account, @ericripert, is one of my favorites. Seeing his food and travels is inspiring. I also like that his personality shines through in his photos.
What should everyone try at least once?
Truly listening to your wife, husband, or partner. And absolutely eat at Le Bernardin in NY.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
I love setting everything aside and getting lost in nature with my family. After being in a busy environment every day, walking in a forest is relaxing, allows me to recharge, and helps my creativity.