"I’m not even a chef any more, and it breaks my heart."

That’s Thomas Keller talking in Michael Ruhlman’s The Reach of a Chef. The New York Observer gives an excellent review of a book that tries to grapple with the arrival of celebrity to the culinary world.

“Even Thomas Keller, whose restaurant the French Laundry helped revolutionize American cuisine, has changed tracks. Mr. Keller, Mr. Ruhlman’s hero and collaborator (they’ve written two cookbooks together) and a living saint if there ever was one, left the Napa Valley for Las Vegas, New York and the ambiguous commercial world, lending his name to signature lines of knives and porcelain. ‘The chef has left the kitchen,’ Mr. Ruhlman says. What he really means is that the priest has left the altar.”


  1. Anonymous says

    Napa has been the commercial world for quite some time. Napa has been the Hamptons for decades.

    Paul Revere ware, Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, etc. Most chefs don’t live their lives in the kitchen and most priests don’t live their lives at the altar, they only practice there.

  2. Matthew Lickona says

    No,Napa became the Hamptons only in the early to mid nineties. And the Hamptonization of Napa had nothing to do with the genius of the French Laundry, which even the NYT had the good sense to realize was the most exciting restaurant in the country circa 1995. What he did was unlike anything else going on in that town – and some would argue, unlike anything else going on in America.
    Revere ware was a brand. Betty Crocker was a brand. Martha Stewart was never a chef, but a lifestyle expert who knew how to cook. Up until recently, chefs did in fact live their lives in the kitchen.

Speak Your Mind