Thomas Keller is an American chef, restaurateur and award-winning cookbook author. A man of exceptionally high personal standards, Keller has successfully assembled an expert staff that shares his philosophy and vision, allowing him to undertake projects ranging from porcelain design to film consulting. Keller is the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings by the Michelin Guide. Most recently he was designated a Chevalier of The French Legion of Honor, the highest decoration in France, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the traditions of French cuisine and his role in elevating cooking in America.
F&W: So you live in California and New York. What restaurants are you eating at now?
Thomas Keller: In Napa Valley, I really love my own restaurants, I hate to say that, but I lov e eating at Ad Hoc and I love eating at Bouchon. Richard Reddington at Redd also does a fabulous job. In New York of course it’s another story: Marea, Giorgione, Café Boulud, Bar Masa. I could go on and on.
F&W: When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
TK: In July of 1977. Because the man I was working for, the man who would become my mentor, a chef named Roland Henin, really made the connection for me with what we do in a really fundamental way. And that is this: We nurture people. And that idea really resonated with me, so that was the moment I decided to become a chef.
F&W: If your cooking career ended tomorrow, what new career would you choose?
TK: Well I’m too old to play baseball, so I guess I’d be a movie star.
F&W: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
TK: That I like very simple food. I like food that really, at the basic level, is just simply prepared with few ingredients. I’m really a very easy person to cook for.
F&W: What’s been your favorite moment so far at this year’s Classic?
TK: I think it was today when we were doing the Bocuse D’Or Luncheon at The Hotel Jerome. The spirit of that luncheon and the meaning behind it is raising awareness for the Bocuse D’Or organization, and I think today we really got the message out there. It was the highlight of my trip so far.
F&W: What’s the best thing you’ve eaten so far?
TK: I haven't eaten!
F&W: How is the Classic different from other culinary events?
TK: It’s in a class by itself. You can’t compare it to other culinary events. This is it. This is the superstar. This is the place to come. If you’re going to go to one culinary event, it has to be the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
F&W: Why should people who’ve never come to the Classic try to make it to Aspen next year?
TK: Just to experience it. To experience Aspen, to experience this time of year here. It’s a beautiful time of year in Aspen. And the essence of what everyone at this event does is hospitality. And the hospitality here in Aspen is one that is palpable. It’s there at every corner you turn, you feel that sense of generosity and hospitality.