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Chef/Writer Spencer

Working with Keller

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Everyone wants to ask you, I'm sure, if you have any good "war" stories about working with Thomas Keller. If there's cult figure in professional cooking out there today Thomas would have to be it. Do you have any insider trucs or funny stories to relay to us rabid chefs and cooks? Were you just totally blown away with the guys talent and abilities on a daily basis or did you become so one with his philosophies that you almost took working there for granted (not that I think that's possible). All of us imagine what it'd be like. Maybe you could shed some light? Thanks man.

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spencer:

Thomas is the man.

He has his reputation for a reason, he earned it, it's real, he throws down.

It's interesting, your comment on taking it for granted, as after I left that restaurant you realize how amazing it and he are.

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spencer:

Thomas is the man.

He has his reputation for a reason, he earned it, it's real, he throws down.

It's interesting, your comment on taking it for granted, as after I left that restaurant you realize how amazing it and he are.

I've found even working with highly respected chefs that I get jaded to their cuisine after a while. It's a natural thing I think for creative suboordinates to go through. I'm just having a hard time imagining feeling the same way at TFL. I think I'd probably feel like the luckiest guy around everyday, even if I was laboriously chinoising stocks 24-7. I was in that kitchen this past Dec, posing with Thomas and my girlfriend and there was an electricity in the air that was palpably exciting. The next day we looked into the kitchen through the fence outside and dreamt of being commis. Thanks for your response. One day you'll be The Man....Good Luck...

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Hello chef, thank you so much for your time.

1) How do chefs feel about borrowing techniques, recipes and menu concepts from one another? I assume the "Oysters and Beer" is a variation on Keller's "Oysters and Pearls". Is everything you observe in a restaurant's kitchen fair game? I am a young food lover and have no experience in restaurant kitchens, so these little details of chef interaction fascinate me.

2) How often are you in the kitchen at Trio?

3) Do you employ assistants that do not cook? I have a disability that makes it hard to get jobs in restaurant kitchens. But I have heard many chefs have general assistants who help in other ways. Do you? How common is this?

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jogoode:

No, Trio's oysters and beer only shares three common denominators with TFL's oysters and pearls. It uses oysters, fish eggs are present, and the seemingly similar name.The dish is as follows:

Two raw oysters, usually Kumomoto. Ginger gelee, micro sliced scallions, anchor steam beer foam and steelhead roe.

I believe technique is fair game but dishes are not. In other words we use alot of technique that I learned at TFL: stock work, reductions, sauces, blanching, you name it!. You won't see anything resembling a cornet, mac and cheese lobster, oysters and pearls and so on. The industry is very competitive, the "stealing of dishes" or concepts is going to happen. The tough thing to quantify is where is the line between "stealing" and simply following the movement of food starts and ends. It happens everywhere, in art, in automobiles, literature, everything. Just like food, time is marked by periods of homogenization. The impressionist era lead by Monet, the enormous size and fins of the cars in the mid 50's to early 60's, style is persuasive.

I have missed 4 services since I began at Trio nearly 2 years ago. 2 were James Beard related, my presence at the awards for my rising star nomination, to prep the Trio dinner we did at the Beard House and 2 for the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen where I was awarded in the class of Best New Chefs 2002.

No, I do not employ a personal assistant, although many high end chefs do.

Please see the post "Thomas Keller's Influence" in this Q&A, it may give an insight into Chef Keller.

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