This article is about the chef. 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 Paul bocuse the complete recipes pdf 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.
He currently holds seven Michelin stars total: three at Per Se, three at The French Laundry, and one at Bouchon. Keller’s mother was a restaurateur who employed Thomas as help when her cook got sick. 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 was 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. Following the split with his partner at Rakel, Keller took various consultant and chef positions in New York and Los Angeles.