It was the best of times…it was the best of times. Because apparently there are no worst of times when you’re graced by the presence of these two culinary legends.
At the highly anticipated panel discussion, aptly entitled “View from the Top,” Thomas Keller joined fellow chef icons Charles Phan (The Slanted Door) and Douglas Keane (Cyrus) to discuss what it was like to be the man.
They talked about the joys and challenges of what they do – the gratification of giving other people the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and goals, the emotional connection they share with their team, the hard choices they make as they navigate life at the top (personal branding, bottom lines, mentorship, expansion, inspiration)…and of course, Yelp.
“What is Yelp? [looks around] No, really, I’m sorry, I don’t know.” â€”Thomas Keller, View from the Top panel session
Thomas Keller is a living legend – he elevated the standards of an entire industry and gave fine dining a whole new meaning.
He also happens to be incredibly warm, sincere, and gracious in person. He smiled, shook my hand, and kindly humored me as I chattered on about how I dreamed of dining at The French Laundry one day, how I loved TFL Cookbook, and how I tried making the Blinis from it, but they took so long with the mashing and sieving and pepper confetti-ing…when the whole time he just must have been thinking, “But blinis are so easy!”
Ok, so Thomas Keller may think I’m a twit in the kitchen now, but at least he knows I’m an ambitious twit.
Cue Keller #2, the charismatic cat, Hubert Keller.
Hubert was the rock star of SF Chefs, doing cooking demos, meeting fans, chumming with chef friends, and yes, even dropping some phat beats at the Urban BBQ Saturday Night.
This is a man who knows how to stir up a crowd! When Thomas Keller walks into a room, a hush falls and the air crackles with electric anticipation. When Hubert Keller walks into a room, a similar energy washes over the crowd, but it’s a little less…quiet. No, it’s party time. Something charming will be said, laughs will be had, and if you’re lucky, dancing will be done late into the night.
Oh yeah, and he can cook too.