Last night chefs Grant Achatz and Thomas Keller were guests on Charlie Rose. In the video below, the chefs talk about their participation in the upcoming restaurant documentary Spinning Plates. The conversation also touches on Achatz's years working at Keller's French Laundry, how Keller spots talent, and much, much more:
· Achatz, on how he got his job at the French Laundry: "I wrote a letter to Chef Keller, wanting to work at the French Laundry for months and months ... multiple letters, I think I sent 15 all in."
· Achatz, on working at French Laundry: "Life-changing. Not only from a culinary point of view, but from figuring out how you're going to live the rest of your life ... It was a monumental step to becoming who I am ... the most important step in my career."
· Keller, on spotting the special ones: "You can tell there's something special there when someone comes into the kitchen and works. And you see their ability, it's kind of a natural ability, whether it's the way they walk through the kitchen, the way they hold their knife, the way they clean their station. Just the way they handle food, there's a huge sense of respect ... When you see that in somebody you say, 'Okay. There's somebody who is going to be wonderful and great someday.'"
· Achatz, on his time at elBulli: "When I walked into that kitchen outside of Barcelona, everything was new. The smells, the language, the cooking techniques were things I was very unfamiliar with. It was incredibly humbling. It made me come back to the US and question what exactly I wanted to do with cooking...it made me realize I needed to actually figure out what I wanted to do, how I wanted to express my way through cuisine."
· Keller, on being a chef: "In some ways, the great thing about our profession is that there's an attachment to history ... We pass on this connection to cooking and nurturing people from generation to generation."
· Achatz, on Keller's influence: "Now when you go to other kitchens, cooks might not have even worked with Chef Keller but that mantra and language and respect is carried out in their kitchen because he set that taste."
· Keller, on what he's most proud of: "Charlie, I've been blessed to have so many things that I'm proud of. I think that what I'm most proud of is the next generation. The Grant Achatzes, the David Breedens, the Eric Ziebolds, the Jonathan Bennos who are continuing this quest, for I don't want to say greatness, but to bring to America, and to our culture and our society, the really wonderful connection to the table and each other."
· Achatz, on forging his own path: "I think it's an ongoing process. But I think there's also a very deliberate way of us analyzing what's already been done, and saying to ourselves is 'that's against the rules now.'"
· Keller, on why it's okay to see cooks leave his restaurant: "Our ultimate goal is to increase the standards of our entire profession, not just our own restaurant."