Escalon Times - - PERSPECTIVE -

YOUNTVILLE (AP) — Thomas Keller’s in­spi­ra­tional mes­sages hang on the walls of his newly ren­o­vated kitchen at the French Laun­dry. Here are some of Keller’s kitchen rules and re­minders to his culinary crew.

uTHE STARS: At the en­trance to the kitchen are two re­minders of ex­cel­lence: the Miche­lin 3-star plaque, and five gleam­ing golden stars that sym­bol­ize mul­ti­ple awards, in­clud­ing the top rat­ings from the Forbes travel guide — for­merly the Mo­bil Guide — The New York Times, San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle and Miche­lin.

uFINESSE: A framed def­i­ni­tion of the word “fi­nesse” hangs on the kitchen wall: “Re­fine­ment and del­i­cacy of per­for­mance, ex­e­cu­tion or ar­ti­san­ship.” Keller elab­o­rates on that, adding that there are count­less great chefs to­day. Fi­nesse is “what sets one per­son apart from some­body else.”

uSENSE OF UR­GENCY: A clock on the kitchen wall is cap­tioned with the words, “Sense of Ur­gency.” Keller says it’s a phi­los­o­phy on the pace for work­ing in a kitchen that he tries to im­part to his young staff. “I think most peo­ple un­der­stand a sense of ur­gency,” he says. “It may be kind of crass, but when you’re on a free­way and you’re driv­ing down and you have to use the re­stroom, and the next re­stroom is 30 miles away. You have a sense of ur­gency to get there. A sense of ur­gency for us is the same.”

uWHY WE COOK: Keller’s 10-line def­i­ni­tion of “Why We Cook” is etched into one of the kitchen’s white walls, end­ing with: “Make Peo­ple Happy. That is what cook­ing is all about.”

uCLOSED CIR­CUIT TV: On one wall is a gi­ant closed-cir­cuit TV screen that con­nects the French Laun­dry’s kitchen to Per Se’s kitchen, in New York, so chefs at both award-win­ning restau­rants can see their col­leagues 2,500 miles away and feel a mu­tual sense of pur­pose, says Keller. “Some peo­ple think it’s like Big Brother, or you’re watch­ing them. No, it’s not at all,” he says. It’s about “con­nec­tiv­ity.”

uNO REP­E­TI­TION: This rule is not on a wall, but it’s the ba­sis of the French Laun­dry’s nine-course menu, which changes ev­ery night. No in­gre­di­ent can be fea­tured more than once on each night’s menu, with the ex­cep­tion, Keller says, of truf­fles, caviar and foie gras.

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