Hestan Commercial is proud to partner with Chef Thomas Keller as our Brand Ambassador. As we have slowed down the pace of our normal lives during this challenging time, it has given us all a chance to reflect on those who have had an impact on our lives. Below is Chef Keller, in his own words, describing who the mentors were in his life that impacted his career.
There have been many. My first mentor was my mother, of course. We probably all can claim that. Our parents, and especially our mothers, are so influential in our lives. I was blessed to have an extraordinary woman who taught me so much about life, about determination and commitment to anything that you’re doing. I was blessed to have that.
My older brother Joseph was my second mentor. He taught me how to roast a prime rib, how to glaze a lobster tail, how to make an omelet. Those were critical things in my first job. Then my professional mentor in a larger way was Roland Henin. I met Roland in July 1977. Up until that time, I was a cook, but it was more or less because I enjoyed cooking and it afforded me an opportunity to travel around the country and different places. You felt like you were part of a team. It sort of satisfied that desire to be part of a sports team, like in the kitchen, you’re part of the team.
In 1977, Roland came and asked me if I knew why cooks cook. He was an intimidating chef and I was a little bit timid at the time, so I cowered back and said, I’m not really sure, chef. Why do cooks cook? And he said, “We cook to nurture people.” And as soon as he said that, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Because, actually, when you think about it, it’s a very important ideal to embrace. At the same time we nurture our guests, we nurture ourselves. That’s really what cooking is all about.