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Here's a Softer Side of Chef Thomas Keller

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"Great cooking produces lasting memories."

Thomas Keller/Facebook

At this year's MAD4 conference in Copenhagen, attendees were given a book of essays that complemented the live talks at the symposium. Though he did not present at this year's event, MAD asked Keller to weigh in on the question, "What is cooking?"

According to Keller, cooking comes down to two main things — not rigorous training and precision, not self-discipline and a good palate, but: nourishment and creating good memories. While all cultures cook because they need nourishment, to Keller, "great cooking produces lasting memories," whether it be from an incredibly complex dish or something as simple as a "beautiful piece of toasted bread."

The chef notes that cooking, at its highest levels, "makes food memories by balancing nourishment with joy and excitement." Keller emphasizes that while some chefs strive to be as technically skilled as possible, at the end of the day, they cannot forget to "nurture" their diners. He adds that to be a "true chef," one cannot separate the ideas of "refinement and memories and nurturing," but instead must greatly respect them.