Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bruni joins Thomas Keller pile-on

New York Times food critic Frank Bruni today questions whether Thomas Keller has stretched himself too far, lending a sympathetic ear to the Bloomberg story published yesterday.

In a blog post, Bruni reminds us that Keller has a line of "silver-plated holloware sold by Christofle," along with the frozen food, expansion restaurants and other sorts of "diversification and division of interests that arguably contradict Mr. Keller’s words and posture in the past."

He adds:
... Mr. Keller has stretched and continues to stretch...

I read the Bloomberg and Eater reports on Keller an hour after having a cup of coffee at Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center, where I met an out-of-town friend for a quick breakfast. I didn’t eat, but I made a fairly thorough visual survey of the muffins, croissants and cookies — there it was! my beloved Nutter Butter! — and I could see several kitchen hands, in advance of lunchtime, making a vast quantity of sandwiches in an assembly-line fashion.

Bruni: Thomas Keller, Inc.

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NS said...

I have to say, I find it absolutely fascinating to watch this shift in public perception.

When I first visited The French Laundry in 2000, the entirety of Keller's well-documented obsessiveness was directed to only one thing -- i.e., providing the best possible meal with the best possible service in the best possible restaurant. Today, his attentions are scattered all over the map, from dishware to inns, butcheries to movies, frozen foods to burger bars.

Notwithstanding whatever defenders may say, I refuse to believe that it's even possible for Keller to deliver the same quality experience today as he did in 2000. He is, after all, just one person, with the same 24 hours in a day that the rest of us have. Something has got to give with dilution of his attention, and unfortunately, I think it already has. That's not to say, of course, that The French Laundry is no longer a great restaurant; rather, it's simply not as spectacular as it once was.

September 25, 2007 12:43 PM  

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