SOME OF KELLER’S KITCHEN RULES
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.