One of my regrets for not starting a food blog earlier is that I never got to share some of the amazing food we ate during our past trips (Hong Kong, Tokyo, Hawaii, London, Las Vegas, etc). Of course, that just means that we need to travel some more!
But seriously, one of the places that we discovered (and fell in love with) while on our travels was the Bouchon Bakery in Las Vegas.
During our first trip to Vegas, we stayed at the Venetian, which has both a Bouchon and a Bouchon Bakery (both places are under the Thomas Keller umbrella, and if you're into food at all, you already know who THAT is). After our first morning, we were completely hooked on the pastries at Bouchon Bakery and ended up eating breakfast here every day (macarons the size of my hand! sweet and chewy pain au chocolat! luscious cheese danishes!) On our second trip, we stayed at Treasure Island and ended up walking over to the Venetian for breakfast at Bouchon Bakery at least three of the five days we were there. Are we hooked, or what?
So when I heard that Thomas Keller's next book was focused on Bouchon Bakery, (we already have all his other books) it was immediately placed at the top of my "Must Have" list of cookbooks. Then, I found out that The Cookbook Store was hosting a book launch event with Thomas Keller! What?! Sign me up!
So, last night, approximately 500 Keller fans, including me and Paul, packed into the Isabel Bader Theatre with copies of the new cookbook in hand and listened to Alison from The Cookbook Store do a Question and Answer interview with the amazing chef-turned-restauranteur. After the on-stage interview, Keller fielded questions from the audience, which focused mainly on his experiences as a chef, his philosophy on cooking and what advice he would give to aspiring chefs.
A few of the things we learned about Keller during the evening:
- he admits he doesn't cook at home nor does he bake
- his team doesn't cook for his customers because "we don't know who you are", they cooks for themselves and what they like to eat
- he loves cookies, especially Oreos and Nutter Butters as a child, although his mom preferred Pecan Sandies
- he had two failed restaurants before succeeding with The French Laundry and one of the traits that he says someone must have in order to be successful is persistence
Although the event was slated to start at 7pm, the doors opened at 6:30pm and by the time we got there (about 6:50pm) the theatre was PACKED. We ended up sitting in the aisle seats in the second last row. Our seats were a little far from the stage, but on the bright side, when the interview and Q&A was over, we were right by the exit, so we managed to get out of the theatre quickly and ended up being fourth in line for the book signing!
We only had to wait in line about five minutes before meeting Thomas Keller himself and getting our book signed - check out the penmanship!
One thing that I really came away with, and what really impressed me about Keller, was his passion and generosity. Not only was it very obvious that he was passionate about food, but he was also passionate about his people. He spoke a lot about hiring chefs that he wanted to see succeed, about training those he hired to eventually take his place, about encouraging chefs to start their own restaurants if that was their dream. He also mentioned that one of the things he liked about creating cookbooks was the chance to have members of his team be part of the books and get their name out in print. Throughout the discussion, he kept giving recognition to his bakers, chefs, gardeners, and book producers. He really seemed like someone you would want to work for because he really supported his staff.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening. This was our first major "chef" event and getting to meet one of our favourite chefs (even if it was only for a few minutes), hearing him speak (unscripted, genuine and honest) and getting our copy of Bouchon Bakery signed was just amazing.
Now, I'm going to settle in and start reading Bouchon Bakery (oh come on, I can't be the only one who reads cookbooks for fun!). What should I make first? Maybe it's time to take the plunge and try making one of my favourite treats - the lovely macaron?