Chef Thomas Keller's Words of Wisdom

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Liz Clayman
Chef Thomas Keller
Mentoring the next generation

Here are some words of advice from the famed chef on his mentorship process and how it’s changing the restaurant industry. Read more about Thomas Keller's groundbreaking style here.

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French Laundry | Facebook
Kitchen of The French Laundry
On the hiring process:

“Hiring a person is critical. The most important step in bringing someone into our restaurants is making sure first that they understand what the expectations are. We give them the opportunity to come in prior to that hiring process to see the environment—we expect them to approve us, too. We’re kind of hiring each other.”

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Liz Clayman
Chef Thomas Keller
On the mentorship process:

“Mentorship can turn around—your mentee can be come your mentor in the future. But one of the things we always talk about is our ability to remove our egos from the equations and appreciate the effort we’re making toward one another.”

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Thomas Keller Facebook
Thomas Keller cooking
On preparing chefs for the next phase of their career:

“When they leave us, we want them to go out with the knowledge and standards and go to other restaurants and help inoculate that restaurant with some of our standards, our thinking.”

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French Laundry | Facebook
Exterior of the French Laundry
Why people with desire capture Keller’s attention:

“Desire is a drive—it drives you every day whether you’re tired, sick, distraught, or disillusioned. Desire is always there, so it really affects my decision to hire people.”

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Per Se Facebook
Per Se Ktichen
Keller likens his teaching process to teaching a child to swim:

“You always put floaties on their arms so they don’t drown themselves—you don’t say you have two weeks to learn to swim and then you take those floaties off, you want to make sure they actually learn how to swim. We want to make sure we give [our employees] the training, knowledge, and skills, making sure that they’re okay, that they don’t fall. They may trip, but we don’t want them to fall down.”

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Thomas Keller Facebook
Thomas Keller
On spreading knowledge beyond his restaurants:

“It’s a profession and we need to stand shoulder to shoulder and help each other out.”

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Chef Tim Hollingsworth:

“He continuously brought me new challenges and opportunities that served as defining moments in growing my career as a chef. From day one, he took a chance on me and hired the small-town boy from Placerville, California, with a very short resume.”

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