Cooking for the holidays with Cafe Boulud's Chef Sylvain Assié

estaurant kitchens are where true magic occurs - where hours/days/weeks of prep work and cooking take place, while diners get to enjoy the carefully plated and garnished result without lifting a finger.

So imagine stepping into one for just a moment. To be able to procure industry tricks to make restaurant-worthy fare. To cook alongside on of the best chefs in one of the best kitchens in the world.

I was one of a select few to spend time inside the epic, clean, organized kitchen of Café Boulud at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto for a cooking class with Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié.  

Chef Assié taught us how to prepare some of the brasserie’s most delectable dishes featured on the 2016 Holiday Menu

The intimate lesson took place as the kitchen was bustling with activity - staff got ready for dinner service and room service orders were prepared. Sharing everything from how to properly truss a chicken to ensure even cooking, to helpful tricks (shearing off a bit of the drumstick bone for better presentation, how to recreate rotisserie chicken in the oven), this hands-on tutorial by Chef Assié was a serious game-changer. 

And lucky readers, you now have the opportunity to create these festive flavours in the comfort of your own kitchen. Café Boulud’s sought-after recipes by world-renowned Chef Daniel Bould and Chef Assié are available below to test in your own kitchen, just in time for the holidays.

The Roasted Chicken and Nicoise Salad will no doubt be coveted dishes you return to again and again throughout the years. You also get a bonus festive cocktail recipe, because ‘tis the season!

p.s. Check out our Facebook page for behind-the-scenes photos of my exclusive cooking class with Chef Assié. Bonus: pictures of the monumental desserts!


Roasted Chicken Recipe

by Chef Daniel Boulud & Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié - Cafe Boulud Toronto


"If you brine a chicken, its flesh will be much more moist, the skin will be much more crisp and it will taste better."

The essential ingredients in a good brine are salt, sugar and honey. Put about 3/4 of a cup of salt, plus half a cup each of sugar and honey, into a gallon of water, bring to a boil, then let it cool down to room temperature.

Then put chicken in a pot with the brine. Cover it and put it in the refrigerator for about 18 hours.


Tie the chicken into a position that will help its dark and light meat finish cooking at around the same time. Tip: Tuck the wing tips under the shoulders before tying.


Drying helps improve the purity of a chicken’s flavor and, especially, the crispness of its skin. After you take the chicken out of the brine and truss it, put it in your refrigerator for about 12 hours, uncovered and unseasoned.

After the drying, you can add whatever seasonings you like. If you brined your chicken, you should not add more salt; it already has plenty. You can add pepper, rosemary and, under the skin, a bit of garlic.


Roast the chicken: 425 degrees for 15 minutes to brown the skin, then 350 degrees until the flesh of the chicken is basically cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remember to adjust cooking times and temperatures to your own oven at home.

Make resting an integral part of the cooking process. We recommend cooking your chicken only to about 90- or 95-percent doneness, then letting it rest in a warm place for about a half an hour before cutting into it. That way, heat from the outside of the chicken is allowed to radiate into the interior, ensuring even cooking. The chicken will also retain moisture more effectively if you don’t cut into it right away, when its juices are at their most watery. So let your chicken rest for at least 20 or 30 minutes.

Carve and serve!


Nicoise Salad Recipe

by Chef Daniel Boulud & Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié - Cafe Boulud Toronto


INGREDIENTS          X     UNIT        

Tuna, seared  60 grams
Tuna confit   30 grams
Red wine vinaigrette    1oz
Salad greens   60 grams
Cherry tomatoes, cut 1/2   4pc
Green beans, blanched 10pc
Nicoise olives   6pc
Potatoes, cooked and sliced 2 whole
Boiled quail eggs, cut 1/2   2pc
Chives, chopped for garnish              
Parsley, chopped for garnish                    
Radish shaved for garnish                  


Season tuna bellies and sous vide with olive oil.

Blanch green beans for 4 minutes.  Cool.

Prepare vegetables as described and arrange on plate.

Slice tuna once cooled and rest on top of salad before serving.


Some Like It Hot Cocktail Recipe
This drink can be served cold over ice or as a hot toddy, hence the name 'Some Like It Hot'.


11/2 oz Martell VS cognac
1/2 oz Cointreau
1 oz lemon juice
I 1/2 oz spiced Pinot Noir & cranberry syrup
Dash angostura bitters

Shaken, served over big rock in rocks glass.

Garnish with large orange twist.


Use the recipe above, but top with hot water and serve in a specialty glass coffee mug. Garnish with clove studded lemon, cinnamon stick and star anise.


Thank you to Café BouludThe Four Seasons TorontoChef Daniel Boulud and Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié for sharing this exclusive experience and recipes with Dine.TO.