In a recent screed against tasting menus, Vanity Fair‘s Corby Kummer suggested that chefs such as French Laundry’s Thomas Keller are nothing short of culinary tyrants, subjecting their over-paying prisoners to tortuously long, unsatisfying meals. In a sitdown with a recent sit down with HuffPo SF, Keller responds calmly to the criticism and suggests that really, his main aim is always hospitality.
He goes on to address the culture of celebrity chefs, saying, “I encourage the media to redefine what the modern chef is and reduce this idea of celebrities.” His point resonates, especially when he discusses self-reflection of his own work. The best line? “If I serve you a piece of fish and I have to make a compromise and for whatever reason I didn’t get it exactly right, and then you come back in the kitchen and say, ‘Thomas, that was amazing, the best fish I ever had,’ to me, you’re a schmuck.”
Keller’s ultimately calls for food coverage that celebrates innovation, integrity, and professionalism over personality-driven features. He expresses commitment to guest and staff, delight in restaurant design, and a offers a fine analogy between baseball and classic fine dining. Basically, Keller wins by quieting rabble-rousers and simply confirming the mastery of his craft.