Thomas Keller, the chef/owner of world-renowned restaurants like the French Laundry and Per Se, was in town Sunday with his exec pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel to promote their new cookbook, Bouchon Bakery.
The pair hit Balena during the day for a presentation and tasting, but settled in to the Bristol Sunday night to mingle with fans who were lucky enough to get reservations for the multi-course Keller-inspired meal prepared by Chris Pandel, Amanda Rockman and others, including Nightwood's Jason Vincent and Cafe des Architectes' Greg Biggers, who helped out on the line.
Eater was fortunate enough to get an invite to the dinner and a seat at Keller's table. The chef got up numerous times to sit with guests, chat and sign books. When he was at the table enjoying the meal, which included a beef tongue en gelee with horseradish and creme fraiche in a mason jar; fall squash agnolotti with fall spices and farmers cheese; rabbit pressé with liver mousse and grapes topped with raw pistachio; and lamb with choux farci and black truffle, he engaged table guests about a topic very near to his heart: the Bocuse d'Or U.S. team being led by chef Richard Rosendale.
Keller asked each of his dinner guests what we knew about the U.S. team and if we had donated to their fundraising cause. Most people at the table didn't know that was an option and Keller said that raising money for the team to practice for next year's competition in France would help them get to their goal of becoming the first-ever U.S. team to win at the culinary Olympics. When he wasn't talking Bocuse, Keller was often checking in on the World Series to see how his S.F. Giants were doing.
If you weren't able to make the dinner, or want to re-live it, check out this great gallery over at Grub Street by photographer Huge Galdones. Keller and Rouxel are in Milwaukee today and then Rouxel heads back to New York to spend Halloween with his kids before the pair again hits the road to promote the book.
· Slideshow: See Last Night's Thomas Keller Dinner at the Bristol [Grub Street]
· Grant Achatz and Richard Rosendale on the Road to Bocuse d'Or [~EChi~]
· Bocuse d'Or USA [website]
· All Thomas Keller Coverage on Eater Chicago [~EChi~]