How does Thomas Keller create his menus at The French Laundry?
It begins with the ingredients. That list of ingredients comes from our farmers and our gardeners and primarily it is based around what is available from the garden. What vegetables are available? We know what our proteins are. We know we have a great source for oysters, a great source for veal, we have a great source for lamb or the different fish or the lobsters that we use. So, it’s really about building a composition of flavors, those profiles, around those significant proteins, if you will. It really begins in the garden and understanding what’s available there. The great thing about The French Laundry and Per Se is this idea of collaboration, because at the end of the night—the menu changes every day—the chef, the sous chef and all the chef de parties gather around the table and we start to map out the menu for the next day. It’s the interaction, it’s the inspiring each other to find the dishes and the compositions. We know the different techniques for cooking them, it’s just a matter of what that composition is and how is it going to be presented. Sometimes we don’t really think about how it is going to be presented until the moment the next day when we first start putting the dish together on the plate.