Thomas Keller grew up in the restaurant business, in Palm Beach, Florida, working his way up from dishwasher to cook. As a teenager, he fell in love with the art of French cooking and learned his craft working in restaurants up and down the East Coast before moving to France to complete his training.
In 1987, he opened his first restaurant in New York City, but the Wall Street crash of that year hit his business hard and he headed west. In 1994, he set his heart on a converted laundry building in Yountville, in the heart of California's Napa Valley wine country. It took 19 months to raise the money to purchase the place, but in 1994 he opened his restaurant, The French Laundry, and quickly made it a destination for gourmets and connoisseurs from all over the world. Twice named "Best Restaurant in the World" by Restaurant magazine, it was soon joined by other Keller establishments: Bouchon and Ad Hoc in Yountville, and Per Se in New York City.
Keller has written five best-selling cookbooks, starting with The French Laundry Cookbook, and has received "Best Chef" honors from TIME magazine, the James Beard Foundation and the Culinary Institute of America. Keller is the first and only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from the prestigious Michelin Guide and is the first American male chef to be designated a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, France's paramount honorary order.