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Ask a Chef: Thomas Keller



October 12, 2010


Thomas Keller interview with the James Beard Foundation

After his Beard on Books appearance, in which he revealed his favorite New York eateries and the story behind his Superman getup in the back of Ad Hoc at Home, the always-on-the-go Thomas Keller graciously answered our questions about his upcoming projects and more. (Considering the guy’s food-packed schedule, we’re relieved to learn that Keller can get some respite in the form of a good night’s sleep.) Check out his answers below the fold—you'll get a recipe if you make it to the end! In the industry you are known as a perfectionist. Was doing a more casual concept like Ad Hoc challenging for you? Not at all. While the restaurant concept may change, the standards and philosophy that we adhere to remain the same. We strive to provide our guests with a memorable dining experience through the execution of the best cuisine and service possible. You have opened a number of successful restaurants, won many industry awards, and published popular cookbooks. What’s next for you? This spring we will open another Bouchon Bakery, in the iconic Rockefeller Center in New York City. I am also very excited to be collaborating with Sebastien Rouxel, executive pastry chef of our restaurant group, on our newest cookbook project, The Bouchon Bakery Cookbook. It will be published by Artisan in 2012. A couple of years ago there were a lot of rumors about your Burgers and Half Bottles concept. What’s the status on that? I’ve had the idea in mind since my first visit to In-N-Out 16 years ago in Los Angeles. We opened Ad Hoc in the space that was supposed to be for Burgers and Half Bottles in 2006. We had every intention to close the restaurant after eight months to make way for the burger concept, but Ad Hoc proved so popular and successful that we could not.  Burgers and Half Bottles is something I would still like to do someday, but I’m still searching for the right location. Speaking of In-N-Out, we know you’re a fan. What’s your typical order there? I order the number two: a cheeseburger with French fries well done and a medium Coke. What are your guilty-pleasure foods? In-N-Out, of course. I also love many Bouchon Bakery treats, such as their Nutter Butters, TKOs (Thomas Keller oreos), chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate chip cookies, macarons...and anything else made there these days. Do you ever have dreams about food? No, I’m afraid I don’t. What are your go-to dinner party dishes? When I host a dinner party at home I do something simple. This gives me more time to relax and spend time with family and friends. For example, in the summer, I like to cook things on the grill. In the winter, I make one-pot, hearty braised dishes such as blanquette de veau or beef bourguignon. (Editor's note: for our own casual get-togethers, Keller's leek bread pudding always has a place on the dinner table.)