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The Great Chefs from around the world
24

Thomas Keller  is an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation, notably the Best California Chef in 1996, and the Best Chef in America in 1997. The restaurant is a perennial winner in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World.

In 2005, he was awarded the three star rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for New York for his restaurant Per Se, and in 2006, he was awarded three stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to the Bay Area for The French Laundry. He is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants.

Here Thomas Keller, chef and owner of Per Se & French Laundry discusses the film "Ratatouille" and some signature dishes.



Wikipedia states: Thomas Keller (born October 14, 1955) born at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California to Edward, a Marine drill instructor, and Betty Keller, a restaurateur, Thomas was the youngest of five boys. Four years after his parents divorced, the family moved east and settled in Palm Beach, Florida. In his teenage summers, he worked at the Palm Beach Yacht Club, starting as a dishwasher and quickly moving up to cook. It was here he discovered his passion for cooking and perfection in a hollandaise sauce.

During summers he worked as a cook in Rhode Island. One summer he was discovered by French-born Master Chef Roland Henin and tasked to cook staff meals at The Dunes Club. Under Henin's study, Keller learned the fundamentals of classical French cooking. After The Dunes Club, Keller worked various cooking positions in Florida and soon became the cook at a small French restaurant called La Rive in the Hudson River valley in Catskill, New York. Thomas worked alone with the couple's grandmother as prep cook. Given free rein, he built a smokehouse to cure meats, developed relationships with local livestock purveyors and learned to cook entrails and offal under his old mentor, Roland Henin, who would drop by on occasional weekends. After three years at La Rive, unable to buy it from the owners, he left and moved to New York and then Paris, apprenticing at various Michelin-starred restaurants.

After returning to America in 1984, he was hired as chef de cuisine at La Reserve in New York, before leaving to open Rakel in early 1987. Rakel's refined French cuisine catered to the expensive tastes of Wall Street executives and received a two-star review from The New York Times. Its popularity waned as the stock market bottomed out and at the end of the 1980s, Keller left, unwilling to compromise his style of cooking to simple bistro fare.

Chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon speaks to iinnovate about the secret of success for his restaurant as well as share some tips on picking the right team in the kitchen.



Awards

Best American Chef: California, James Beard Foundation, 1996
Outstanding Chef: America, James Beard Foundation, 1997
Chef of the Year, Bon App├ętit Magazine, 1998
Voted #1 – Top Food, Zagat Guide to the Bay Area, 1998–2003
Five-Star Award, Mobil Travel Guide, 1999–2004
Favourite Restaurant – Restaurant Experts' Poll, Food & Wine Magazine, 2000
Top Restaurant for Food, Wine Spectator Magazine, 2000
America's Best Chef, TIME Magazine, 2001
Outstanding Wine Service Award, James Beard Foundation, 2001
Outstanding Service Award, James Beard Foundation, 2003
Best Restaurant in the World (French Laundry), Restaurant Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants of the World, 2003, 2004
Best Restaurant in the Americas (French Laundry), Restaurant Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants of the World, 2005–2008
Best New Restaurant (Per Se), James Beard Foundation, 2005
Michelin Guide New York, 3 Stars for Per Se, November 2005 – 2011
Michelin Guide Bay Area, 3 Stars for The French Laundry, 2006–2011
Gayot Top 40 Restaurants in the US (French Laundry) 2004 – 2010
Gayot Top 40 Restaurants in the US (Per Se) 2010
Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor, presented by Chef Paul Bocuse on March 29, 2011 in NYC

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