Thomas Keller and Per Se

Big article in New York about my favorite chef Thomas Keller and his new restaurant in New York City, The Perfectionist Gets Burned: How Thomas Keller survived the fire that almost took down Per Se.

"Just the other day, Thomas was so proud to show me how they use painter's tape in the kitchen," [The French Laundry Cookbook co-author Michael] Ruhlman says, visiting the Per Se kitchen one afternoon. Instead of tearing the tape from the roll to, say, label the plastic deli cups that hold the ingredients at each mise en place, every strip of tape at Per Se is cut with scissors, every edge perfectly straight. Immaculate. "Because it's all one thing to Thomas. You can't be lax in one area and perfect in another.

"It's not about the sweeping vision," Ruhlman adds. "It's about the minute vision. There are no big decisions. A great restaurant is the result of a thousand little decisions. A place like this is just composed of details. It's a pointillist picture. So every night after service, you'll see Thomas down on his knees, scrubbing out the cupboards."

Ah, that sounds like the Thomas Keller who charmed me as I read Michael Rhulman's wonderful book, The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection. I love the minute vision, the focus on the thousand little decisions, making sure each one is as right as it can be. Of course, such perfectionism is exhausting, but I think that's just how I'm made. And reading this makes me want to take back what I said the other day about not wanting to eat at Per Se. Maybe I do after all…