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Thomas Keller Discusses Failure, Future and Film

Last night, Thomas Keller appeared on Charlie Rose, and even though Rose's first question was "What is it you know about cooking?", it's a fascinating discussion overall, particularly for Father Keller fans. More concerned than ever with making the restaurant world a better place, His Highness is in full regal, philosophical mode, talking about his failures, his role in Ratatouille, other big name chefs (Gordon Ramsay, David Chang), the origin of his famous Oysters and Pearls dish, the changing role of the modern chef and even how he closed the French Laundry for five months to open Per Se. Other highlights from the conversation:

On his desired legacy: "One that has been impactful, that helps [my staff] do their job better. For diners, just the memories."

On how often he's in the kitchen: "As often as I can be. [Chuckles]"

On whether he wants to do television (which according to Rose, "would give [him] credibility"): "No, I think that's distracting. There's enough things today that distract chefs and certainly enough that distract me. I want to try to focus in and make sure our restaurants are getting everything they need."

His favorite pastry: the Napoleon

His ambitions now: "To make sure we're able to maintain and continue to elevate the quality of our restaurants and set examples for the next generation."

On Michelin: "Michelin is very important. I think any book, any magazine, any newspaper that's critiquing what we do is very important because we need that feedback. Michelin represents, for so many chefs, the pinnacle of that accomplishment."

The most important lesson for family cooks: "It's just about quality of the products and really working with—or supporting—the suppliers ... simplicity is the hardest thing to execute."

Where he's eating tonight in NYC: Per Se, duh.
· A conversation with Thomas Keller [Charlie Rose]
· Alice Waters on Charlie Rose, With Pears and Radishes [~ESF~]

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