Artists Celebrate Launch of PBS Series

Chef Daniel Boulud tells Niteside he has many different inspirations when he’s dreaming up new dishes.

“The ingredients, the people around me, the season — and most of all, it depends on where I am,” he said. “If I am in China, I’m inspired by different things than I am when I’m in New York or London, and I think the conversation kind of crosses different paths.”

“I think that’s what’s fascinating about cooking. You can cook all over the world, and think differently everywhere you go.”

Boulud spoke Wednesday night at the launch party for a new PBS series that features one-on-one interviews with some of America’s most talented artists.

John Jacobsen hosts “The Artist Toolbox,” which features, in addition to Boulud, actor Jason Alexander, singer John Legend and writer Isabel Allende. Also included are top graphic designers, dancers, fashion designers, and architects.

It was important for the show to span many disciplines, Jacobsen said. His only requirement was that guests be “masters of their craft and leaders in their field.”

“We didn’t want it to only be celebrities, because you could watch Barbara Walters and see a 10-minute interview with a celebrity,” he said. “We wanted to make a promise to show you the best of the best in a lot of different fields.”

Jacobsen created the show partly as a reaction to the enormous popularity of reality television.

“I think TV is the most powerful medium that we have in human society, and it’s a wasted medium,” he said. “I’m all for TV being entertaining, but I also really think it has the power to influence us. And rather than degrading society, TV should be uplifting it.”

One of the show’s most interesting features is that it is not filmed in a studio. Instead, each interview takes place in a location that is important to its subject.

“It’s a show about process. It asks, ‘How do you create music? How do you create art? How did you get where you are today?’” Jacobsen explained. “And so it’s incumbent upon us to go to their studio, their neighborhood, the places where they work and live, and see that environment because it’s such a big part of them.”

Boulud, who hosted the launch party at one of his restaurants, said he was happy to have been included in the first season of the show.

“I felt privileged, because the show is about art, and I think to include a chef in a group of artists and in a group of people who have accomplished wonderful things in culture is very exciting,” he said.

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