Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller

Chef & Proprietor of Restaurants by Thomas Keller and Founder of Regiis Ova Caviar

Success, for me, is not about fortune or fame. Success is about giving to our team, our guests, our friends and family and community through time and commitment, advice and mentoring. Always, at the center of it all, are the wonderful memories created together of meals enjoyed and shared.

Most people think of success as based on what was done yesterday, but I focus on what we are doing today and how we are going to do it better tomorrow.
As I grew into my role as a chef, restaurateur and then the leader of our restaurant group, I realized that I needed to promote confidence and courage among my team across all departments, and to give them a strong understanding of who they are, and what they can contribute—so that together we can make a positive impact on our profession.
When it comes to career growth or keys to running good business, there are two words that come to my mind: patience and persistence. Being patient with yourself is an integral part of career growth, whether it is with your time or the stage in your career. It’s important to spend time learning and enjoying that process… As for persistence, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something, and don’t ever feel like you can’t do something.
Surround yourself with good people and if you dedicate yourself to improving each and every day to do your best, opportunities will arise as a result of hard work, loyalty, responsibility, setting goals, and just allowing things to take their course.
Regardless of whether you are a chef or restaurateur, when you are just starting out and developing a foundation, it’s important to build a common vision and approach with your team.
Repetition is fundamental to one’s success in cooking. You learn more about a certain technique each time you attempt it.
Once you are aware of everything that goes on around you, this opens you up to inspiration and to new ways to interpret your cuisine.
Inspiration leads to evolution. Evolution becomes more rapid when you share ideas and collaborate with a group of individuals who share your same ideals and philosophy.
The biggest lesson I learned as a young chef? Striving to do a little better each day. If you improved on something even just a little bit each day, imagine what one can achieve in a month; multiply that by a lifetime.
We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. There are few individuals who have borne the weight of our profession and the modernization of restaurants around the world, as Chef Paul has.
Chef Henin took me aside one day and explained to me why cooks cook – that whether you were the short-order cook down the street or the private cook for a family or a chef in one of the finest restaurants in the world, he said ‘Cooks cook to nurture people.’ At that moment, that very moment, July 1977, is when I decided to become a professional chef. Chef Henin’s words became my guiding principle, the foundation of everything I try to do.
We cook to nurture. To make people happy. To create lasting memories around a meal.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

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