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Last Update: Sunday September 27, 2020

Key Idea: Stay Charming

Thomas Keller knows how to paint a picture and endear himself to people.  These are the skills he needed before he was able to show off in his own kitchen. More...

Key Question:


Be the person others want to be around.  It took months for Thomas Keller to talk the owners of the French Laundry into letting him buy it.  He was broke but he was so charming and persistent that they couldn't resist him.

The owners had closed the restaurant and put the building up for sale. When Thomas told them he wanted to buy it they took it off the market. When all the cash didn't materialize quickly, Thomas had to keep going back to the owners to plead for more time. This required charm. This required powerful communication skills. He had to keep selling them on himself and the dream of a restaurant unlike any other.

Think about it

Could you develop a more pleasing personality? Have you experienced rejection that could be due to your clumsiness or poor people skills?

Clip from: The French Laundry with Chef Thomas Keller

Yountville, Napa Valley, California: He took a little-known restaurant in a little town and turned it into one of the most famous places in the world.  Le Monde said (paraphrased), "Can it be possible that the best French restaurant is not  in France but ...California?" 

Visit The French Laundry and the man who made it come to life, Chef Thomas Keller.  He now also owns Per Se in New York City, and Bouchon in Yountville and in Las Vegas.  To accomplish this growth, he has recruited, hired and trained some of the best chefs and service people in the country.

Writer Irvine Welsh had this to say about dining at The French Laundry,  "...I salivate now as I think of the Truffle-pickled Hen Eggs with 'its creamy yellow' and Chopped Black Truffles.  ...obviously, the title of 'best restaurant in the world' is subjective to the point of lunacy. Having said that, I doubt it would be possible for The French Laundry to be equaled.

...Thomas Keller is a true giant among chefs, coming over as a genuinely inspirational figure, and to see him in action in his kitchen is pure joy."

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French Laundry

Thomas Keller, Owner

6640 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599

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Office: 707.944.2380

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Stay Charming

THOMAS: And we'd come back to the Schmidts and say, `I'm close. This is happening, please...' bear with me and believe in me for another three months.' And Don and Sally said, `OK. You know, we'll believe in you.'

HATTIE: Do you think your failures, -- the one at 21 and then the one in Palm Beach, and then the one in New York -- did that teach you? Did that give you courage?

THOMAS: It gave me a lot of confidence, because I had been through it before. But I'd been through it with other people's money, so that was a little easier. Fortunately, my attorney had a base group of people; he had done this for other restaurateurs. I started sending people to him. And, I sent him out to people that I had known -- Bob, Michael, my two initial contacts...

HATTIE: So the attorney went on your behalf.

THOMAS: The attorney went on my behalf. This was a few of his core group of people that he thought might invest in a restaurant: And I just started making cold calls to people. And I'd ask you...`Do you want to invest?' `No, I don't want to invest.' `Well, do you know somebody who would?' `Well, maybe this person,' and before you know it, you're talking to people that you don't even know. And you wake up in the morning, and you have a list of 10 people that you want to call, and sometimes I'd get through three of them. Sometimes I would get through all 10 of them because it was a good day, and I had two people that wanted me to send them the prospectus. I'm not even--they're not even saying they want to invest, they're just saying, `OK, send me the document and let me take a look at it, and then call me back in...two or three weeks.''

HATTIE: Thomas, you're selling.

HATTIE: You're selling.

THOMAS: I'm selling. Yeah.

HATTIE: You're not being a chef. You're not cooking, you're selling.

THOMAS: Rigth. The bank gave us a real estate loan. The SBA gave us a business loan. And then the investors came up with the rest.

HATTIE: With the rest.. So you have three separate--but how many investors?

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