Thomas Keller: TOP TEN BOOKS


Thomas Keller photographed by William Hereford

Six Michelin stars sit atop Chef Thomas Keller’s metaphorical crown—three each for the celebrated Per Se and The French Laundry restaurants in New York and California’s wine country, respectively. Keller, also the mastermind behind Bouchon (in New York, Vegas, and Yountville, California) is the only American chef to have been awarded three-star ratings from the Michelin Guide, and additional recognition of his work includes The Culinary Institute of America’s “Chef of the Year” Award, and The James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Chef” and “Outstanding Restaurateur” Awards. His latest restaurant, the TAK Room, has just opened in NYC’s Hudson Yards. He says he abhors the label of “celebrity” chef. “I shy away from that completely,” he told  Diablo magazine. “That’s not what I’m trying to be, and it’s not what I want to be. I’m trying to be a leader and set examples for the next generation.” Those looking for inspiration could start with this list of his ten favorite books.

Below are Thomas Keller’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


Charlotte's Web

E. B. White
I’ve never looked a spider web the same since reading this during my formative years. The tender friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur has remained with me and it serves as an important lesson about loss and learning to let go.
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The Match

Mark Frost
It’s no secret that I love the game of golf. This is the story of an epic golf match held on one of the world's most fabled courses. But as much as it is a riveting account of a competition, it is also a probing work of history and sociology that uses golf as a window into a distinctive place and time.
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The French Laundry Cookbook

Thomas Keller
Truly near and dear to my heart. My first cookbook serves almost as a yearbook, taking me back to a specific place and time. As we get ready to celebrate our 25th anniversary at The French Laundry, the stories and memories of making that book are as vivid as ever. The book speaks to evolution as well, important for chefs not only in terms of how dishes can take new shapes and perspective, but also in terms of ingredients and technique. 
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Animal Farm

George Orwell
Takes me back to my high school years when I was becoming more aware of group dynamics and trying to figure out where I belong. Its commentary on society at large is relevant today.
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Ma Gastronomie

Fernand Point
I cite this book as the cookbook that most influenced me as a young cook. First published in the United States in 1974, but long out of print, Fernand Point’s page-turner cookbook was republished in 2008, and I was honored to contribute a foreword to that edition. The book is half recipes, half stories, and the stories about Point himself are remarkable and beautifully told. I recall the day I learned about this book very clearly. I was working at the Dunes Club in Narragansett, Rhode Island when my mentor Roland Henin loaned me his copy. He said it was a special book—his favorite. I found it extraordinary. I took it everywhere with me for two years throughout France and read it whenever I had a moment to spare.

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Start With Why

Simon Sinek
I've watched and re-watched Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk and find his perspective inspiring. With the opening of The Surf Club Restaurant, La Calenda and soon TAK Room,  I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can improve in my leadership role during a time of growth and change. Finding fulfillment in work is important for me and my team. Sinerk’s insight are endlessly illuminating.
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My Life in France

Julia Child
Julia Child wrote, “One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.” Learning from our mistakes is one of the most important things we do, in and out of the kitchen. I’ve made many along the way and it’s an important reminder that we can accept them and treat them as an opportunity to grow. 
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Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman

Merle Miller
I love biographies and this one is particularly captivating as it is told in Truman’s own words. Truman was a complex man serving at a challenging time in our history. This book brings the man and his historical moment to vivid life. 

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The High Line: Foreseen, Unforeseen

James Corner Field Operations and Diller & Scofidio & Renfro
I am very interested in how design and planning shapes cities and am always curious about the roots of transformation. Having spent much of my early career in New York where parts of the city were in disarray, I was captivated by the book, in awe of the community and New Yorker spirit which taught me so much about how a unique corner of Manhattan came to be.
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A Treasury of Great Recipes

Mary and Vincent Price
My mother gave me this book when I was a teenager keen on following in the footsteps of my chef brother, Joseph. It is a leather-bound book with gold-embossment on the cover, the photography is magnificent and mouth-watering, and it’s full of great stories and classic recipes from around the world. It’s mandatory reading for our culinary team at TAK Room.
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