Thomas Keller, the masterful American chef whose take on modern French cuisine (Per Se, The French Laundry, Bouchon) has earned him accolades like America’s Best Chef and induction into the Culinary Hall of Fame, was asked by MAD to answer the question “What is Cooking?”
For chef Keller, cooking comes down to two things: happiness and nourishment.
“When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food — only the idea of it — then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy,” writes Keller.
“When we think of cooking, and all of the different cultures and sub-cultures of food around the world and the reason that we all cook, that reason is nourishment. It’s that simple.”
The preservation of the culinary tradition, however, means paying homage to those who came before us, writes Keller.
“Today, in and around our profession, it seems that we are always seeking to wow our guests with the next new thing. It’s as though we’ve forgotten that the next new thing can only be a product of what came before. As I’ve seen the landscape of cooking change, I hold to the belief that the best chefs are the ones who came before us: the innovators and influencers who inspired a generation of chefs and whose experience and expertise paved the way for the most refined and advanced culinary era in history.”
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.