FALL 2017

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Thomas Keller strives for perfection in the kitchen and on the golf course BY TED JOHNSON to TEE An argument can be made that Keller's happy place is as much the golf course as his kitchen. Keller obsesses about golf the same way he prepares his salmon tartare and cinnamon-sugared doughnut holes. Put another way, Keller does in kitchens what Tiger Woods used to do on the PGA Tour: demonstrate exhilarating imagination and brilliant execution. In 1994, Keller opened The French Laundry in Yountville and its influence rippled throughout the culinary world. It was named the world's best in 2003 and 2004 by Restaurant Magazine. His restaurant group now includes Ad Hoc and Bouchon in Yountville, as well as Bouchon eateries in New York and Las Vegas. His cookbooks rank among all-time bestsellers in that category. When, in 2004, Per Se in New York City earned three Michelin stars— a distinction shared by The French Laundry—it made Keller the only chef in the U.S. who can claim two restaurants with that honor. Lunch at The French Laundry can cost upwards of $200 per person, not including wine, and dinner much more. To foodies, however, a reser- vation there is as desirable as a golfer securing a tee time at Pebble Beach or Cypress Point. Keller would have it no other way. "We ask if they are celebrating anything," Keller pointed out, noting that many guests have planned years in advance to get to his restaurant for a special occasion such as an anniversary or graduation. "They are there to experience it all, and it becomes a memory. That's when we're a success. At the end of the day, the memories are all we have." Before the inaugural Thomas Keller Golf Classic, a fundraising event held June 11-12 at Silver- ado that benefited scholarship programs at the Culinary Institute of America, Keller's presence was the main attrac- tion. Among the auction items: a foursome at Muirfield Village, Jack Nicklaus' course near Columbus, Ohio, and golf getaways to Maui T he man who has been called the "most influential chef in America" is a golf nut. Some would say a certifiable one. Thomas Keller, who has made the Napa Valley known not just for wine but as the heart of America's Epicurean Disney- land, rakes another ball in front of him on the practice range at Silverado Resort & Spa. ERIC RISBERG BOB MCCLENAHAN

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