chef evolutions

Ruth Reichl Once Called Thomas Keller ‘Really Depressed’

When life wasn't a walk in the garden.

When life wasn't a walk in the garden.Photo: Andrew Barris

Reichl recalls over twenty years of Thomas Keller, starting with his frustrating, "really depressed" sounding existence at Rakel and Checkers, to his first days at the French Laundry, where he aspired, perhaps too grandiosely, too god-complex-y, to control the entire essence of coming to Yountville, telling a reporter in 1992, "I want to control the entire experience, not just from the minute you walk into the restaurant but from the minute you get to Yountville ... " Today, the equally committed, but perhaps more understated Keller is zoned in on his burgeoning gluten-free creations, focused on taking care of guests with all allergies — even though he doesn't remember anyone having allergies back in the day. (Right!?) Well, as he once told Grub, "I learned a long time ago that I'm a nurturer." [Gilt Taste]

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