Thomas Keller’s road to the kitchen is typical of a film plot by starting as a dishwasher and working his way up. He currently holds seven Michelin stars.
Keller was employed in his mother’s kitchen as a cook when she got sick. Perfecting the hollandaise sauce was where he found his passion. He was found by another great chef, Roland Henin, who recruited him to cook staff meals at The Dunes Club. This started Keller down the road to pursuing French cuisine.
Keller spent a few years at a restaurant called La Rive and was given free rein. He took full ownership of this role by building a smokehouse to cure meats and developing good relationships with local purveyors. After not being able to buy Le Rive, Keller, ended up in Paris where he worked at a few Michelin restaurants.
In 1992 Keller wandered upon an old French steam laundry that was converted into a restaurant. Over a year and $1.2m later the restaurant was opened and would lead Keller to his first three Michelin stars and an award from the James Beard Foundation. It was called The French Laundry. Following the success with The French Laundry, he opened Bouchon with his brother in 1998. Keller joked that Bouchon was opened so he had a place to eat after work.
Per Se, perhaps his most famous, was opened in 2004 with Jonathan Benno wearing the Chef’s hat. It was an entirely new project with everything designed and custom-built from scratch. In 2005 Per Se received its three Michelin stars with Keller being the only chef to be awarded simultaneous three stars for separate restaurants. His restaurants regularly feature in the Top 50 Restaurants in the World.
Keller worked on Spanglish teaching Adam Sandler to make the world’s greatest sandwich. He was a consultant for Ratatouille and plays a cameo as a patron, a role Ferran Adria plays in the Spanish version.
Thomas Keller was awarded the Best Chef in California in 1996, a significant award considering the competitive nature of Napa Valley. He says the BLT is the perfect sandwich.