Hyde Park, NY, May 17, 2013 – Expecting a cooking demonstration from one of the world’s greatest chefs, students at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) instead were treated to something completely different from Thomas Keller on Monday, May 13.
The college hosted Thomas Keller Day at its Hyde Park campus with a keynote address from Chef Keller and breakout sessions covering various restaurant business topics. The day was scheduled to conclude with a “culinary presentation.”
Instead of a traditional demo, Chef Keller made his stage debut, leading top staff members from his celebrated restaurants including Eli Kaimeh ’00 of Per Se, purveyors, and celebrated protégés such as Grant Achatz ’94 and Jonathan Benno ’93 in a one-act play.
“You often hear it said that restaurants are like theater, with a front of the house, a behind-the-scenes crew, a colorful cast of characters, a creative script,” Chef Keller said. “Today we thought we’d take it literally.”
Sense of Urgency was the result—a performance developed by Keller’s team that portrays an evening of service at The French Laundry in Yountville, CA and named for the wording on a plaque that hangs under the kitchen clocks in all of Chef Keller’s restaurants.
The French Laundry is a Michelin Guide three-star restaurant that was honored as the World’s Best Restaurant by UK-based Restaurant magazine in 2003. “We observe the process of execution and the importance of relationships between the purveyors, farmers, and craftsmen of the products these chefs will use to serve their guests,” explains the Playbill.
Close to 1,000 CIA students attended the performance and hundreds more participated in the earlier presentation and breakout sessions, which were simulcast to the college’s campuses in Texas and California. Twenty lucky students were selected to have lunch with Chef Keller.