Thomas Keller Essay

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Thomas Keller Born at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California to Edward, a Marine drill instructor, and Betty Keller, Thomas was the youngest of five boys. Four years after his parents divorced, the family moved east and settled in Palm Beach, Florida. In his teenage summers, he worked at the Palm Beach Yacht Club, starting as a dishwasher and quickly moving up to cook. It was here he discovered his passion for cooking and perfection in a hollandaise sauce.During summers when work was slow, he took cook's jobs in Rhode Island. One summer he was discovered by French-born Roland Henin and tasked to his Dunes Club to cook staff meals. Under Henin's study, Keller learned the fundamentals of classical French cooking. After the Dunes Club, Keller worked various cooking positions in Florida and soon became the cook at a small French restaurant called La Rive in the Hudson River valley in Catskill, New York. Thomas worked alone with the couple's grandmother as prep cook. Given free rein, he built a smokehouse to cure meats, developed relationships with local livestock purveyors, and learned to cook entrails and offal under his old mentor, Roland Henin, who would drop by on occasional weekends. After three years at La Rive, unable to buy it from the owners, he left and moved to New York and then Paris, apprenticing at various Michelin-starred restaurants, including Taillevent, Guy Savoy, and Le Pré Catalan through 1983.After returning to America in 1984, he was hired as chef de cuisine at La Reserve in New York, before leaving to open Rakel in early 1987. Rakel's refined French cuisine catered to the expensive tastes of Wall Street executives and received a two-star review from the ''New York Times''. Its popularity waned as the stock market bottomed out and at the end of the 1980s, Keller left, unwilling to compromise his style of cooking to simple bistro fare.

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