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Last Update: Sunday February 23, 2020

Key Idea: Follow Your Heart, Your Mind, Your Soul and Your Strengths

Host Hattie Bryant says that Thomas Keller's guiding philosophy would be laughed at by Wall Street. More...

Key Question:


Stick to your core beliefs.

Q: Is Thomas Keller a bad business man?

Some would say he's a bad business man. We say he's a man who is doing what he wants to do, is creating work, is pleasing investors, and delighting customers. All of that adds up to success in business.

Q: What is the risk in making a product that only pleases you without doing market research?

A: Your business will only be as big as the market. If you are like Thomas Keller and do not have "main stream" tastes, you will struggle as Thomas did in the beginning. How many people are there who want to spend $175 on one dinner and spend 2-3 hours eating that one meal?

Thomas found there weren't enough people in Palm Beach and not enough people in
New York City back in 1986.

How important is location if you want a retail business?

  Some would say location is everything. It is certainly critical, and Thomas proved that by finding the perfect location where he can cook what he wants to cook and people are happy to pay his asking price.

With the passing of time, Thomas Keller is seen as a hero in the food world. He is enjoying amazing success and he is finding plenty of people who want to eat what he wants to cook.

If you read the comments below, you'll discover the tiny bit of customer backlash that a business like Per Se and The French Laundry must endure.

One diner writes, "Was it really worth it? The food is the finest anywhere ever. No doubt. Was it really worth it? We say probably not. You dine how Thomas Keller wants you to dine. There are no options for you as a diner. It is $175.00 without tax, tip or beverages whether you choose the 9 course tasting menu, the 9 course vegetarian menu, or the 5 course menu. The price had gone up from $150.00 from the time we made our hard-to-get reservation. The only real flaw in our dining experience was that our Pinot was served refrigerator cold. It took almost an hour with lots of swirling and decanting for it to be the proper temperature. We were surprised that there wasn't a wine pairing offered with the tasting menus. Be prepared for LOTS of food. There are all kinds of goodies brought before and between courses. We counted 5 desserts/sweets at the end of the meal. We were all glad we went, but none of us feel the need to go back at those prices and there was just too much food! We would have liked to have had a 3 or 4 course option that wasn't $175.00."

Even though some customers feel they have no freedom when they enter the world of Thomas Keller, there are plenty who stand in line to get in.

Think about it

What can you do to make your products and services so in demand that people have to wait their turn?

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

Visit our web site:

Office: 707.944.2380

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Follow Your Heart, Your Mind, Your Soul and Your Strengths

HATTIE (In the studio) : On this program, you have met business owners who say, `Do what your customers tell you to do.' And, you've met business owners who say, `Please only yourself.'
The CEOs of big companies would find this latter theory bunk, and even laughable. But that's because big business is about return to the shareholders and management by objectives. And these goals can be achieved only by pleasing customers, and grabbing big market share is based upon pleasing customers.

Thomas made a decision somewhere along the line that his heart and soul will not allow him to compromise his personal taste. He would rather be poor and cook what he wants to cook, than be rich and cook what others want him to cook. He started cooking at an early age, studied with great chefs, then gave himself the freedom to experiment and develop his own personal style which is now studied and applauded by others.

After two business failures, he is realizing great success because he stood by his standards. By doing so, he found people who want to pay for what he wants to make. Napa is a place where people come to eat and drink, they're on vacation or celebrating a special occasion and are happy to pay the price and wait in line to partake of what Thomas wants to cook. To succeed in business you can make exactly what you want to make. You just have to find enough people who want to buy exactly what it is you're making.

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