5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Thomas Keller is arguably one of the most recognized and respected American chefs in the world - a bona fide culinary god to those in the industry. See him walk into a room and watch as food fiends bow in his presence shouting, "we're not worthy!"
Chef Keller has waaaaay too many accolades to name - we'd be here all night - but for a goût: he's the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings by the Michelin Guide, and has received numerous awards from the James Beard Foundation, including "Best Chef in America." The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group currently consists of the culinary meccas, The French Laundry and Per Se, as well as Bouchon, Ad Hoc and Bouchon Bakery.
Want to follow in his footsteps? Here's some required reading. Hope you brought your library card.
Five Books that are Required Reading for All New Culinary Team Members: Thomas Keller
1. "Ma Gastronomie," Fernand Point
"This book was first given to me by my mentor, Roland Henin. The chef/author Fernand Point purposefully wrote his recipes without any specific directions and ingredient amounts, so one’s success is directly proportional to one’s level and skill of cooking at that moment. Every time I improved, so did my interpretation and execution of that particular dish."
2. "Le Repertoire de la Cuisine," Louis Saulnier
"[It] includes all the classics to help improve and expand one’s foundation in cooking."
3. "Great Chefs of France," Anthony Blake
"This book opened my eyes and made me realize that cooking is not a career, but a lifestyle."
4. "On Food and Cooking," Harold McGee
"Harold McGee has given us a true understanding of the interaction foods have with one another. He is the single most important authority on the subject."
5. "The French Laundry Cookbook," Thomas Keller
"I use this book as a tool for our new cooks to understand and gain insight on my philosophy about cooking. More importantly, the book underscores how much we value our relationships with our purveyors."
After study just a few of the blog posts in your website now, and I actually like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website listing and shall be checking again soon. Pls check out my website as properly and let me know what you think.
Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the net the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries that they plainly don't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks
Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say fantastic blog!
I just like the helpful information you provide on your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check once more right here frequently. I am moderately certain I will be told plenty of new stuff right right here! Best of luck for the next!
Ah..........the Old Days.
I had a fantastic menu at Per Se earlier this year. Worth it. And if there's black truffle for an added charge, GET IT. Soooo worth it.
On Food and Cooking by McGee or go home.
Hello? Did anyone read that this "Must Read" list was a "must read' list FOR HIS STAFF?!?
Note: As the wife of a professional chef, one who has run restaurants making the top 25 list in three different B cities (not NYC, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago but major Metropolitan areas nonetheless) Thomas Keller's bookS ARE among his favorites.
True chefs rarely get to cook during service, but they do often prep food before service and they do oversee and train their staff. In many cities the staffs are not illegals, but I'm not sure how that matters. Some of the most talented cooks I've ever met were of questionable green card status...
Thomas Keller does NOT cook your food when you eat at his restaurant. No 'celebrity chef' cooks. Actually most 'chefs' don't cook. They manage all aspects of the restaurants menu presentations. The food you eat at the restaurant, for the most part, is prepared by illegal immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador or Ecaudor. Read Anthony Bourdain's 'Kitchen Confidential' and 'Medium Raw'......the unvarnished truth about restaurant kitchens
some do, example Michael Chirello, Bottega in Yountville (just across the street from Bouchon, down the street from French Laundry)
Nobody noticed that this guy literally selected HIS OWN COOKBOOK as one of his top 5? What the hell? Thats about as arrogant as they come. Seriously. Way to sell a few more books there, buckaroo.
I noticed. Isn't god allowed to do a little shameless self-promoting.
I've never eaten at Chef Keller's restaurants. I'm sure the experience could be memorable, positively or negatively. The truth is, Keller can't cook at each restaurant every day all the time – he can't be in two places at once. He has a staff trained to replicate his menu, he has staff who are trained to serve the customers. These staff (kitchen or front of house) are supposed to uphold the chef (and/or owner's) expectations and quality standards.
If one's experience is lacking, or the food sub-par, I'd venture to say that it is the chef (and/or owner's) fault and responsibility to correct.
Having said that, some of the absolute best dining experiences my wife and I have enjoyed have been at the small, hole-in-the-wall Mom & Pop places that can serve 10-15 tables a turn. I've eaten in some fancy places before but it is the "off the beaten path" places I remember most. Those places you find down a dark alley, down a staircase, with a most heavenly aroma of good food emanates. Worked by a chef who has passion for food and pleasing his/her customer.
Dear Blogger: when you said, "but for a goût", did you use "goût" as in "taste", meaning "small bite"? Because the phrase "Chacun a son goût" may be the equivalent of "to each his own taste", but the word's meaning is closer to "preference", or pattern of preferences. If I misunderstood your intent, I apologize.
You don't order at Per Se or French Laundry. Both are prix-fixe menus. You choose which menu and eat what you are served. I suppose if you had dietary restrictions they would be honored, but I don't know that as I didn't request any modifications on my one visit to each restaurant. Can't speak to Bouchon – never had the opportunity to dine there.
It is a shame if there have been such service blunders. Our experiences were both exquisite; we were even offered a tour of the kitchen and got the chance to shake Chef Keller's hand at Per Se. It is inexcusable that service does not live up to the food and that is something that Chef needs to handle quickly.
For the record, it is absolutely ludicrous to assume that NO mistakes will be made. Are any of you infallible? It is how such errors are handled that should be the test. It seems that the ball was dropped there, as well, and that is what is most distressing.
To the disappointed couple who couldn't eat ON their anniversary. Why insist on a refund? Why not try another date – it's common knowledge that reservations at TK restaurants are extremely difficult to get. Others called before you did, is that Mr. Keller or his staff's fault?
Seems to me that no person or business is going to have a 100% success/satisfaction rate. The chef's talent/skill/accomplishment simply doesn't alter the fact that some persons have had experiences at his restaurant(s) that they felt were unsatisfactory. That's no slur on him as a preparer-of-food; especially when he likely wasn't even in the restaurant at the time. The weak link in the chain of Master Chef-> customer's dining experience seems to be that others, less expert, less committed, less personally invested, are entrusted with conveying the Master Chef's vision, food, etc. There isn't really any other way for one Master Chef to 'feed' thousands of people a day, and it does produce error rates which wouldn't be the case if the MC was doing it all him/herself.
Three more I would add to the list:
1) Mastering the Art of French Cooking - Julia Child. I know, kind of a populist book, but the information is good.
2) Theory and Practice of Good Cooking - James Beard. An outstanding "how to" of all the basics.
3) Beard on Bread - James Beard. A great reference on the art of baking bread.
What ever happened to the "old school" established materials like The Joy of Cooking and Larousse Gastronomique?
Thank you Mr Beard for kindly including your works on your list as well.
Boy, I can't believe what I started by actually daring to criticize Thomas Keller, aka "God." I forgot to mention my favorite annoyance. Since it was LA, we called to say we may be late. It appears their phone system was installed by the same folks who did the French Laundry. They had voice mail answering ("Press one for the kitchen staff, if you know the extension of the person you're trying to reach..." ). I couldn't get over that. They didn't even have a human answering the phone. And when we arrived, right on time, they made us wait 20 minutes for our noisy table and bad food. One person in my party actually returned a week or so later and said it was great. "You just have to be careful about what you order and hope they seat you away from all the noise." What is it about people that makes us actually seek out situations that make us feel defiled, humiliated and abused?
press two for the
Could not agree more with you....service is the absolutely first and foremost. Food is always secondary. Guests will always forgive poor food, but never poor, unpolished or arrogant service.
What, you expect god to answer the phone? That deserves a quick trip straight to hell, or Olive Garden, which ever has the first available seating.
I look forward to perusing through these books. Thank you for providing a little more insight into Thomas Keller that rounds out the philosophy already conveyed in his cookbooks. My wife loves them. My wife and I have been dining at Per Se for years and when we are on the West coast and available to visit, have also enjoyed the French Laundry. While we have never dined at Bouchon, the service and attention we received at the two locations has been perfect, each time. I highly recommend it! You can even ask them to honor being placed in a quieter area, as we do. But the reason we go is to enjoy each other's company while enjoying his delicious and novel combination of food, its preparation, the extraordinary attention to detail and the intricate levels of flavor the first bite of each service provides. We look forward to each dinner with giddy anticipation.
why is this a "must read"? i dont think so. i click on the link and there is a list of other things i must read. why does this guy have a blog on here? oh yea, i forgot, any and everyone has a blog these days.
He may be a fine chef and know French Food inside and out, but it sounds like he needs to retrain his staff and do some food quality control. Otherwise, I don't care how much of a "GOD" you are, enough bad publicity about negative food dining experiences will make for lousy business.
i didn't read the article because i don't like when a guy who wears a ridiculous hat to work tells me to do something
Thomas Keller is a great chef and a superb human being. There's something wrong and quite off with the naysayers.
Have you tried Tom's Blumpkin Pie? It's delicious.
Both your posting name and you post should be expunged from this site.
Who are you? People like you drag this planet down. I bet you chastise your wife (if you have one) in public. One of those kind of guys. It's unfortunate humor cannot be surgically reattached once lost.
Waa, waa, waa... Get a life
French Laundry is gay. Taqueria Can-Cun is better, and what frickin lazy french people actually do laundry. Should be called the Mexican lavanderia. Overrated. Cyrus is much better.
Tom Golicchio if you knew ANY of the history of The French Laundry, you would know why it is named that. It has nothing to do with french people.
Sure, not a morsel of bad food in Italy. But the anticipation and participation of dining at Keller's places is worth the wait and the cost. The care and execution of a birthday dinner for favorite nephew was impeccable; yes, there was a special cake. Each visit has been an exquisite dining experience. Long live Chef Keller!
In the end, the best restaurants are the small ones in Europe where pretention doesn't rule. While I'm sure he is a great cook, customer service is clearly a problem of his and some of you may think its normal, but its not. Nor is it acceptable, nor should you put up with it. Vote with your dollars elsewhere.
In L.A., go to Craft, the London or the Bazaar. Hell, even Maestros has better customer service, which is amazing as its way busier than Bouchon.
If not, travel around the world, go to the small mom & pop restaurants of Europe and ditch the Kellers of the world to the nouveau food enthusiasts who don't know any better or think snobbery apparently makes food taste better. The rest of us world travelers know we can get the same meal, at 90% less, by just being adventurous, especially in Europe.
Tom is a perfectionist, and he is still it the top of his game. It all starts with the products, and he sources and interprets them as well as anyone on the planet. If you have seen his kiitchen, you know he is uncompromising. Hats and tocques off. GJ.
Dinner at the French Laundry about 10 years ago – it was a special occasion and we were from New England ...it was totally worth the reservation ordeal. We had a fabulous dinner and it was such a memorable night. I still keep my clothespin on the shelf in the kitchen – it makes me smile. Just wish I had met Thomas Keller when i was there.
We dined with a party of ten in Sept. 2006 and 2007. At our 2007 seating they forgot the promised birthday cake and 5 of the 9 dishes were the same as the previous year. When we emailed and asked them to vary the menu, Thomas Keller called us personally and said, "If you don't like what I serve, don't come." We cancelled and will now dine at Gary Danko's in S.F., a much better restaurant. French Laundry is SO not worth what they charge you.
You're complaining about a meal from 2006? Wow. Lighten up. Asking for them to generate a Birthday cake is rude. I'm pretty sure they don't have random Birthday cakes for those occasional customers, like yourself that ask for it. Resist the temptation to go again for they're likely not going to corral the staff to your table either and to belt out a tune.
Again, falling short of customer expectations is not someth9ing to laugh at or ridicule the customer about. The fact that she remembers how bad it was shows you what a poorly memorable experience it was. And from that long ago? Yeah, clearly, this was a poor customer service experience of a LIFETIME. Congrats Keller!
Isnt it amazing to you that this short comment box is loaded with people complaining about the service? But you're correct, we should all pull down our pants and let Keller do his thing? Get real and get some standards.
Mr. Keller needs to pay more attention to his customers. My children pooled their money to buy us a gift certificate to the French Laundry for our 35th wedding anniversary. After two years trying to get through the busy signal (the rules are very strict – you must call exactly two months before the date you want, and at exactly 9:00am or the restaurant is sold out for that date), I finally got a human being on the phone, who told me they had already sold out the date. I asked him to refund the gift certificate, and was told there are no refunds!
You asked for a refund? Real classy. I feel for your kids – they thought to get you out, to explore your surroundings and expand your palate. They're likely tired of those trips to the OliveGarden too.
So someone shouldn't ask for a gift certificate refund when they can't get a reservation on their anniversary?.... wtf is wrong with you. Olive Garden? bet you were waiting for just the right online moment to slip that snide comment in and show everyone what a foodie you are . . .hahahaha
Mr. Keller is indeed a God. And all knowing. But he is also a busy man and as surprising as this may sound to you, He really can not keep track of when it's your anniversary, and additionally leave a few tables free, should you happen to call. I'm going to go out on a limb with this one...but you probably would not have enjoyed your experience anyway. ( they don't have those garlic breadsticks )
Wow thanks for going out on that limb, and giving us all that information about restaurants and stuff. You must really be in the know. I'd pick your brain for some more pearls of wisdom but alas, you're probably busy planning your next alsatian gastro-tour. I'm going to go out on a limb too (hey this is fun!): you may be just the right flavor of sucker these faux foodie joints love; the putz who equates detached pretension and crap service with a transcendental dining experience. hahahaha eat up !!!
yeah odog, they give the james beard award to anyone, just for being pretentious. it's not like chef keller worked his ass off to earn it. and pretty much every professional chef idolizes him just cuz he's an asshole (which is why we act like assholes too). and every restaurant gets european michelin star rated. chefs in france have literally killed themselves over those stars. he is a culinary god for a reason. go pick up one of his cookbooks, he is the chef equivalent of da vinci.
I've eaten all over the world and crap servie doesn't belong anwhere, ESPECIALLY expensive Restaurants. So please, anyone who thinks its normal or acceptable for the Restaurant to not bend over backwards to serve the customer deserves the treatment that is apparently quite common at his Restauants. And when making reservations is a hassle and that hard, that means the restaurant could care less about its customers.
Perhaps Mr. Keller & his staff deserve a lesson in humility and customer service.
hahahaha the da Vinci of cooking. Is that like the Roger Federer of poetry? wtf . . . .
Lets see if we can clarify. People are complaining about the service at some of his restaurants, and you are countering with "But he's the Copernicus of soufflés!". Unless da Vinci himself is taking reservations, seating people, taking orders, and serving the food, how are Keller's chef skills relevant? Unless . . wait, . . . maybe he's the Einstein of restauranteurs.
As for chefs killing themselves for Michelin stars .. . . probably not the best tactic . . if you think it through
Odog – learn to read. No one said people killed themselves to get stars, someone said people have killed themselves over stars. If they lost a star or not gotten a star people have killed themselves. I agree it's certainly not the smartest move but it happens none the less.
As far as how are Kellers skills relevant, are you serious? He came up with the food, the restaurant, the experience. Just because he probably didn't cook it, it is still his food.
I've been to Per Se twice, unquestionably the best food and best overall dining experience I have ever had. There is a reason it costs what it does and it's worth every penny.
Learn to eat. hahaha Holy crap! twice at Per Se . . . I guess I should defer as you must know what you're talking about. Again, nobody cares that you had a great time. The point is people say the service blows when they've gone. As for killing yourself to get a star, for losing a star, or for anything having remotely to do with michelin stars, or ANY award in ANY field for that matter; it is moronic.
btw, they give out any stars in your line of work?
Then you call them back and tell them that it's illegal in the State of California to take money for a gift certificate and the service is not rendered.
Not kidding, contact the state if you want to verify this. You cannot sell a gift certificate and refuse to honor it. Doesn't even matter if the thing is expired. You cannot take money and give nothing. Illegal activity. This applies to all businesses, snotty or not.
They didn't deny service, they were booked on the only day this guy would go, he had to go on his birthday but now comes in here and rips TK despite never having even eaten his food. They will gladly accept his gift certificate as long as they have a reservation and go and use it. Its rare gift certs are refundable.
They must refund the gift certificate in the State of California. If you request a refund, they must refund your money. It does not matter if you can or can't get a reservation. State law is state law, and last time I checked, Napa Valley is still in the land of fruits and nuts.
Went to The French Laundry. I had high expectations and was very very excited. Turned out to be a disappointment. Maybe I was too excited and expected too much. My husband's scallop was overdone, the tuna sashimi was nothing special (ooo, bell pepper extract in FOAM!) and overall, it was... ok. Nothing special. That was it. Nothing special.
Early this year I was stepping off the elevator at Columbus Circle when I was making eye contact with some guy whose path I had to cross - when I realized it was Him - immediately an image of twice cooked gnocchi in butter served with pan cooked tomatoes and yellow & green squash came to mind and followed by a rapid succession of detailed particulars in his cookbooks which I identify with and appreciate. Perhaps if I had one more second, I would have snapped out of it to smile to extend a nod of gratitude.
It was good to find this reading list as I am about to begin the plunge into culinary arts after working in tech support for the past 5-6 years. To prepare I have started reading up on some of these books, My copy of Harold McGee just arrived the other day which I've heard about in several other books I was looking through. I just finished "The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America" by Michael Ruhlman which I'd recommend to anyone considering a career in the culinary world. I might have to add the other books on his list to mine. McGee is going to keep me pretty busy at its sheer 800 pages and wealth of information. It's basically a cooking science textbook.
Bouchon in L.A.is a joke with terrible customer service. I went there, with reservations, on a Friday night and was ketp waiting with barely an apology for an hour and half. The surely staff's attitude of who gives a damn was some of the worst I've ever seen, so me and my party of four left, with barely an apology from Thomas Keller's staff. ONe of the worst and most rude non-dinning experiences in my life, not even a free drink offered after an hour and half wait?
Thomas Keller needs to survey that joint anonymously, as the customer service is a complete joke.
But since people will go there and wait an hour and a half, even when they have a reservation, obviously they don't have reason to change their service.
4Mel- I didn't wait there and went to another restaurant. I have never eaten at Bouchon, due to the wait and I've let every site I can think of know about it.
He is only worried about serves. No Handicapps need attend. all the bathrooms and the steps to higher level dining do Not meet ADA code by design. only blond hair blue eyes should visit.
He's a genius in the kithcne but he's probably not the one cooking your food, he just created the menu. Go to France or Italy where they're not fixed on being the richest guy in the world.
Our dinner at Bouchon was memorable, all right. Two plates out of four were sent back, the waiter was apathy personified and the noise level was just below the runway at LAX, but at least the din made it easier for Mr. Apathy to ignore our complaints. Mr. Keller needs to concentrate less on the TK Restaurant Group and more on trying to figure out how he got so far from the teachings of Anthony Blake.
We have been to Bouchon a number of times and although the first few times were excellent both in terms of service, and food the most recent last Spring was not. Although we were greeted in a affable fashion the table service was slow and the food was nothing special. We were very disappointed and although I am relatively easy to satisfy foodwise my wife and daughter are excellent in the kitchen and were not impressed. I hope it was an anomoly.
He is a food god. Pure genius!
The French Laundry, New Year's Eve, 2005, I believe, was the trip to dining mountain top. Per Se is wonderful for a NYC lunch. Only a return trip to the Laundry could eclipse that New Year's dinner.
More required reading:
6. "Roadkill Roundabout" – Billy Bob McToothless
"Billy Bob guides us through some of the most exquisite highway patte, flat-cat pancakes, on other fine foods that will melt in your mouth "right off the grill"."
7. "Scat Attack" – Two Girls, One Cup
"You won't make it past the first page without your mouth watering! I dare you to try it. you will want to pass this book along to all of your friends just to see the delight as they react to the contents!"
8. "Feasting on Fido" – Kim Jong Il, with assistance from Hans of Team America
"Kim Jong Il really points out some of the finer intricacies of the canine cousine. Written in isolated North Korea, you will note the focus of the author as he sweeps us into his impeccable insight to this lesser known art form."
9. "Rocky Mountain Oysters on the Half Shell" – some redneck eating cow balls
"While this is more of a pictorial, it's still satisfying to see others as they enjoy this delictible delicacy. Review the beautiful and colorful images of others as they gather for a holy tradition.
Get a job, and if you already have one...get another one.
Cool! I can find these in the pre-teen section, right?
Goggled the Roadkill cookbook you mentioned and nothing came up.
maybe 'cuz you goggled instead of googled.
Bonnie Kropp, don't you mean "Giggled the Roadkill cookbook"?
You are an idiot. Can someone on CNN please remove this poster's comment!
You're a jealous angrymaniac with no sense of humor that can barely poop due to the tightness of your own sphincter. Now THAT'S a post worth removing.
Easy, Mr. Angry. Grin or ignore.
I got way more out of his post than yours you crabby old stuck up snob with a corn cob up your butt. (see how I made food references there?)
I'm going to disagree with most of the posters and say that's actually pretty funny. Good job.
ROFL... You're pretty creative, and these titles are hilarious!
While the scatalogical humour is well, what it is, I happen to respect Keller's suggestions and above all else, his work. He has influenced so many up and coming chefs as well as proficient home cooks. He has helped many to reconnect with the real joys and challenges of cooking all the while reminding us that it is often the simplest meal that is not all that simple to make....he told me once, build those flavour layers – I have been doing that ever since.
Road kill does have its place too......and I am sure if Keller was to read your joke he would snicker.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 8,140 other followers