Thomas Keller is renowned for his culinary skills and his exceptionally high standards. He has established a collection of restaurants that set a new paradigm within the hospitality industry. He began his culinary career at a young age, working in the Palm Beach restaurant managed by his mother. He relocated to France in 1983, where he worked in several Michelin-starred establishments including Guy Savoy and Taillevent. He opened his first restaurant, Rakel, in New York City in 1986, then moved to California to work as the executive chef at the Checkers Hotel in Los Angeles.
In 1994, Keller took ownership of the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., quickly garnering nationwide acclaim. His French bistro Bouchon debuted down the street in 1998, with Bouchon Bakery following five years later. The other restaurants in the group include his home-style restaurant Ad Hoc (also located in Yountville), Per Se and Bouchon Bakery & Cafe in the Time Warner Center in New York City, and outposts of Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery at the Venetian in Las Vegas. In November 2009, he opened Bouchon in Beverly Hills and introduced his newest concept, Bar Bouchon, in an adjacent space. In May 2011, Keller opened Bouchon Bakery in New York City's Rockefeller Center, followed by another unveiling of Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills in August.
In December 2012, he simultaneously opened additional locations of Bouchon Bakery at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Keller values genuine collaboration. He has assembled an expert staff that shares his philosophy and vision, enabling him to concentrate on his many varied interests.
He is the author of the award-winning cookbooks The French Laundry Cookbook and Bouchon, Under Pressure (on sous vide cooking), and Bouchon Bakery, released in 2012. His book of family-style recipes, titled Ad Hoc at Home, has received awards from both the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the James Beard Foundation.
Keller has collaborated with Raynaud and the design firm Level on a collection of sophisticated white-porcelain dinnerware called Hommage. He has launched Modicum, a Napa Valley—sourced wine label, and consulted on the films Spanglish and Ratatouille, the latter of which won the best animated feature film at both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards for 2007.
In 2001, Keller was named America's Best Chef by Time magazine. In 2003, Johnson & Wales University conferred upon him the honorary degree of doctor of culinary arts for his contributions to the industry. His accolades include consecutive Best Chef awards from the James Beard Foundation and Chef of the Year by the Culinary Institute of America. Keller is the only U.S.-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from the Michelin Guide, having received a total of seven stars in the 2012 editions.
In 2008, at the behest of chef Paul Bocuse, along with chefs Daniel Boulud and Jérôme Bocuse, Keller established the Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation, where he currently serves as president. The foundation is devoted to inspiring culinary excellence in young professionals and preserving the traditions and quality of classic cuisine in the United States. In 2010 Keller was elected to the Culinary Institute of America's board of trustees, contributing his unique perspective and leadership to furthering the school's educational mission. In spring 2011, French president Nicolas Sarkozy designated Keller a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, the highest decoration in France, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the traditions of French cuisine and his role in elevating cooking in the United States. Keller is only the third U.S. culinary figure to be so honored. The medal designating his rank was presented by chef Paul Bocuse in a special ceremony at Keller's Per Se restaurant.