Posted 14 August 2002 - 08:35 AM
Good question, Jaybee. As important as Alex Lee clearly is in the direction of the kitchen at Daniel, it's impossible to call him the "equal of Daniel" at the restaurant. The two perform very different functions. As I describe in the book, Alex Lee acts as liaison between various staff members--including between front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house, and is a key player in hiring new kitchen staff. But in the way the restaurant is structured, Daniel exercises more overarching leadership qualities; he basically runs the business. Since, as I also describe in the book, he has difficulty sometimes letting go and delegating, it's really his restaurant. As important as he is, Alex Lee is not a partner in the restaurant. I would add that although Alex Lee is brilliant--one of the most brilliant chefs in the country--several officers in the Dinex Group that owns Daniel made me understand that the feeling is that if Alex Lee weren't there, Boulud would be able to install someone else brilliant to run the kitchen. It's hard to say whether that's really possible, but Boulud is such a genius at running restaurants that I tend to believe it.