Originally posted in March 2011
The question I get asked most is: “What was it like working at the French Laundry with Chef Thomas Keller?”
As you can imagine- this isn’t an easy question to answer. More often than not I’ll answer with: “life changing” or “awesome”- but to sum it up is nearly impossible.
I started at the Laundry when I was 23 years old- the perfect time for me to do this- having just finished working at Le Francise restaurant learning classic French food. The shift to the Laundry came at the perfect time.
In Napa I was exposed to products I have never heard of or cooked with like; ramps and crosnes. To “salsify” was a foreign concept.
Just living there and seeing the change in seasons made me more aware of local and seasonal foods. I had no idea there was a grapefruit tree in my neighbors yard until winter came around and the fruits starred to grow.
Thomas is one of a kind, always pushing his cooks beyond what they think their limits are. Attention to detail and caring for products were among the many things ingrained into me when I left.
Thomas’ intensity and knowledge are unmatched, and to this day I try to instill the things I learned from him into the cooks that work with me. I feel I have taken the things I learned there and created my own style based on his beliefs of food and work ethic.
Opening Tavernita has caused me to think about what imprint I’d like to leave on my staff, I can only hope to be half the chef Thomas Keller is.