Thomas Keller answers...10 questions for a visiting chef
Name Thomas Keller
Occupation Chef/Restaurateur of French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon Bakery and many other restaurants.
Welcome to Chicago! Why are you here?
This is the first leg of my book tour for our latest book project: The Bouchon Bakery Cookbook. Chicago is always one of my first stops.
Did you have any fears/anxieties/nervousness about coming to the Midwest?
No, as I am a frequent visitor to the Windy City.
True or false: You will be eating at Avec while in town.
Hopefully true. I like to eat out whenever I have the opportunity. But at the end of the day, Artisan handles my tour schedule. I hope they will be able to carve the time.
Where else will you be eating?
Whenever I am in town, I always try to visit Grant (Achatz) and Brendan (Sodikoff), former chefs at The French Laundry. It would be nice to to eat at their restaurants during my visit.
The Chicago hotdog–yes or no? (Choose one.)
C. I don't know what that is.
A. Yes, of course!
What does Chicago have that your home city doesn't have? (We're talking food and restaurants here, but feel free to go into other arenas.)
We just went through some of them...Avec, my former colleagues Grant and Brendan as well as Chicago dogs are top of mind.
What does your home city have that Chicago doesn't have?
The French Laundry. [Ed. note: Feel free to fix that!]
Tell us an interesting story from your childhood.
I come from a big family and my brother Joseph and I were born 18 months apart. Being born so close together, my mom wanted us to both feel special at each other's birthdays, so she made sure to give both of us presents during each other's birthdays. It was great.
Tell us a funny/interesting/frightening tale about your restaurant.
I didn't come up with the name The French Laundry. I decided to keep the name after I purchased the property from its original owners, Don and Sally Schmitt, back in 1992. Their daughter, Kathy Hoffman, still comes every week, twice a week, to make all our floral arrangements at the restaurant. Don and Sally still supply us with apples from their Apple Farm in Philo, CA. We remain very much connected.