Fleur Past and Present

As fine-dining restaurants become more relaxed, Chef Keller says his Fleur restaurant in Las Vegas is “a bit more loose but still very refined.”
As fine-dining restaurants become more relaxed, Chef Keller says his Fleur restaurant in Las Vegas is “a bit more loose but still very refined.” MGM Resorts International

Chef Hubert Keller reflects on closing his landmark San Francisco restaurant and committing to Vegas.

Hubert Keller is often spoken of as the consummate French chef, a master of tradition and classical cuisine. But the energetic Alsatian is also one of the most innovative restaurateurs of his generation, always ready to make a change or take a risk in order to stand out and keep moving in this most competitive of industries.

Raised in a family of pastry chefs and educated in Strasbourg, Chef Keller first left France to open La Cuisine du Soleil in Brazil under culinary legend Roger Vergé. He landed in San Francisco in 1982 to team up with Vergé again at Sutter 500, and four years later, he took over as owner and executive chef at Fleur de Lys, a game-changing modern French dining room. It was there where he put the finishing touches on his approachable style, wide-open creativity, and pure dedication to hospitality.

Chef Keller closed Fleur de Lys on June 28, 2014, and became a full-time resident of Las Vegas where he operates the updated Fleur fine-dining restaurant and the highly successful Burger Bar, both at the expansive Mandalay Bay resort. FSR caught up with the star of Top Chef Masters and Secrets of a Chef to reflect on his personal restaurant history.

What was it like to close Fleur de Lys in San Francisco after almost three decades, and how did you decide when to shut it down?

It was actually very interesting. It was not sad at first because it was the decision my wife and I made, and we knew sooner or later the restaurant would have to close. When you say you’re going to close, the rumors start to run and it’s not good for business and not fair to employees. Some of our employees had been with us for so long and they’d been so loyal. At one point I had two line cooks and their sons working with us at the same time, two father-and-son sets. That’s how long we’d been around. But my 60th birthday was in June, and we had 28 years of business so we picked the 28th.

What were you feeling when the restaurant was actually closing?

As it got closer it began to feel weird, kind of like when you leave your country for the first time and go to work somewhere else. Of course it’s exciting, but it’s so tough to make that first cut, like you’re breaking something. Only if you do it do you know what it’s like to go through it. It became very emotional, I must say. We announced a month before, and of course told our managers and employees first, and it was on the news the next day. We knew there would be a reaction.



Thank you for the wonderful interview with one of the most innovative and exceptional chefs working today. He is always copied but never duplicated! Cheers to Fleur and Vegas!


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