Culinary Style: French/Mediterranean
Born: Alsace, France
Signature Dish: The Nordic Burger, made with salmon, is a popular choice at Fleur de Lys
Education (and previous gigs): Keller received all of his early culinary training in Germany, studying at the École Hôtelière in Strasbourg and apprenticing at the L'Auberge de l'Ill in Illhaeusern, France. Afterwards, Keller returned to his native France to train under Paul Bocuse in Lyon and then in Paris under Gaston Lenôtre. While still in France, Keller worked on the cruise liner Mermoz, then at Domaine de Châteauneuf, and finally at Moulin de Mougins under the tutelage of Roger Verge. Having found an exemplary teacher and close friend in Verge, Keller moved to Brazil to work at Verge’s restaurant La Cuisine du Soleil based in São Paulo. In the early 80’s, Keller followed Verge again, this time to San Francisco, where he was picked to head up the kitchen at the recently revamped Sutter 500.
Awards: In 1988 Keller was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine. Nine years later, in 1997, Keller was named Best Chef: California by the James Beard Foundation. In 2003 the Foundation awarded Keller the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America lifetime achievement designation. In 2006, Keller’s flagship restaurant, Fleur de Lys, was awarded a Michelin star. That same year marked the third consecutive year Fleur de Lys had been named as one of the top 40 restaurants in the country by Gayot.
Notable Mentions: Keller’s has a cooking show, Secrets of a Chef, which runs on PBS. In addition to his own show, Keller has made several appearances on the Top Chef as a guest judge during Seasons 1, 2 and 5. In 2009, Keller entered into the competition himself, as a contestant on Top Chef Masters. He eventually placed third.
DID YOU KNOW?
Keller, along with fellow chef, Jean-Marc Fullsack, cooked a private dinner for President Clinton and his family, making them the first guest chefs in history to be allowed to cook at the White House.