Thomas Keller Gives a Tour of Per Se's Kitchen

Thomas Keller, America's most celebrated chef and creator of the French Laundry and Bouchon, invites us into the kitchen of his four-star New York City restaurant, Per Se.

Released on 11/11/2008

Credits

Starring: Thomas Keller

Transcript

00:02
[Thomas] Here we are in Per Se kitchen.
00:04
Certainly a dream kitchen by anybody's standards.
00:08
This kitchen is actually designed after the French Laundry
00:11
in format and philosophy.
00:13
We have different stations for different functions
00:16
and different sections of the menu, certainly.
00:19
One of the unique things about the kitchen, there are many.
00:22
One of the unique things about the kitchen is there are no
00:24
sight obstructions except for the Bonnet stove
00:26
and the shelves there.
00:28
Which allows us to talk, to keep a very low tone
00:31
when we talk, and actually communicate through eye contact,
00:35
which is very helpful sometimes.
00:36
The old evil eye.
00:37
We have the first course and cheese station here,
00:42
then it goes around the Bonnet cooking suite.
00:44
You would have canape, fish, meat, entremetier,
00:48
which is the vegetable cook.
00:49
Over here is the pastry.
00:52
At the pass, which is this table here,
00:54
we have Jonathan Benno, who is our chef de cuisine,
00:56
and one of our sous chefs helping.
00:59
It's really designed so that there's interaction
01:01
between the different stations and we actually work
01:04
as a team, helping one another out.
01:06
The format here is a prix fixe menu,
01:10
either five courses or nine courses,
01:12
so it's really interaction between all of the cooks
01:15
and all of the chefs that make us successful.
01:18
This kitchen is approximately 1,200 square feet,
01:21
which is about 100 square feet larger
01:23
than our kitchen at home at the French Laundry.
01:26
This kitchen here is designed
01:27
just for the gastronomic restaurant Per Se.
01:30
During service all of these tabletops would be covered
01:33
with tablecloths, which is the same as in the dining room.
01:37
That allows us, as chefs, to view the food,
01:40
the same way our guests view it.
01:42
Of course we have incandescent lighting,
01:43
which gives us also the same color palate on the plates,
01:48
as you would in the dining room.
01:49
But as all the plates go out, the chef sees all the plates
01:51
going out, we see them all going out,
01:53
we also see them coming back.
01:55
So as the waiters and the servers are bringing
01:57
the dishes back from our guests,
01:58
they are announcing what table it comes from.
02:00
This allows us to do two things.
02:02
Number one, see how our guests enjoyed the food,
02:04
but more important to know when to continue
02:08
the process of the meal.
02:10
They go into the ware washing area over here,
02:12
back over here we have our coffee and tea rooms,
02:16
so there's no interaction with the kitchen.
02:18
We have approximately 12 cooks, or actually 10 cooks
02:22
that work in this kitchen as well as two students
02:25
from one of the culinary schools.
02:28
So there's 12 people in this kitchen total,
02:30
to do each service.
02:31
And we do about anywhere from 85 to 95 guests a night.
02:36
So we're going to walk on back
02:37
to another portion of the kitchen.
02:40
We have a beautiful halibut here that just came in.
02:43
It's a north Atlantic halibut which we really love.
02:46
We have some rouge over here,
02:47
some Japanese sea bream, just a beautiful lovely fish,
02:52
look at the color on that.
02:54
Another interesting thing about our kitchen
02:55
is there is no walk-in.
02:57
What we decided to do, the way we built Per Se
03:00
is to create a kitchen that is walk-inless.
03:03
A walk-in is a central refrigerator that usually,
03:07
there may be several of them,
03:09
that have different items in there.
03:11
And of course everybody has to travel to the walk-in
03:15
to get their product and then travel back
03:16
to their work stations.
03:18
What I wanted to do was to create more efficiency
03:20
and work flow in our kitchen.
03:22
So each station has the resources that support it.
03:26
And you can see how big they are.
03:29
This is actually taken right from the
03:31
French Laundry's walk-ins, we still have walk-ins there,
03:34
we are still a little bit behind the times.
03:37
But this is the exact size of a walk-in section,
03:41
if you will, that was allocated
03:44
to the quantity of fish we needed everyday.
03:48
We'll walk back this way.
03:50
Here we have our butcher room.
03:53
This room is kept at around 64 degrees,
03:55
and of course all the products come in here.
03:57
This is our lamb, which comes from Keith Martin,
04:01
who is our lamb farmer in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania,
04:05
and he just does a wonderful, wonderful product for us.
04:08
He actually put my name on it which is quite flattering.
04:15
Then through here, we'll go back through here.
04:19
Back here we have more of a prep area.
04:20
This is where a lot of our comey's are doing work,
04:22
a lot of the base,
04:23
a lot of the foundation work is done here.
04:25
As you can see here we have stocks going on.
04:27
This kitchen supports, not only Per Se private dining,
04:30
but Per Se gastronomic kitchen as well.
04:32
Back through here we have our storage rooms.
04:40
This is our pantry where we keep some of our dry products
04:43
as well as some of our vegetables and fruits
04:45
that don't require refrigeration.
04:47
We actually want to keep them out
04:48
so they develop more flavors.
04:49
Back here is some more storerooms,
04:51
and one here is for our pastry products,
04:54
which again is controlled around 72 degrees,
04:57
so it keeps the chocolate in our pastry chef's pies
05:00
nice and temperature controlled.
05:02
This our produce box, our fresh produce box.
05:06
See we have two sections here and again,
05:08
you may notice all of the green tapes.
05:10
Every product is identified by what it is,
05:13
the day it came in and who checked it in.
05:16
And this is not only for produce but for everything.
05:20
Walk back here.
05:24
When added private dining, we added on to here,
05:29
and then we did one more thing.
05:31
We got a little more ambitious and decided to do
05:33
Bouchon Bakery downstairs.
05:35
Which we are on the 4th floor of the Time Warner Center
05:38
here in New York City.
05:39
We did Bouchon Bakery on the 3rd floor.
05:41
So when we did Bouchon Bakery we obviously had to create
05:43
another support area to produce products for that.
05:47
So we added this area, this is third portion of our kitchen.
05:55
This area here is our chocolate room.
05:57
This is where we're producing the chocolates
05:58
and also make our ice cream.
06:01
You can see some of the array of the chocolates
06:03
that we have here, as well as throughout.
06:06
But you can see how the chocolate boxes here.
06:09
This is our chocolate cabinet with all the different
06:10
chocolates that we have in it here.
06:13
And you can just get a sense of the quality
06:16
and the variety of the different chocolates that we have.
06:18
Sebastien Rouxel, our pastry chef, produces 54
06:22
different flavors within about 40 different shapes.
06:28
Some of them molded, certainly some of them truffles.
06:33
We have coconut truffles with white chocolate,
06:36
it can get quite extensive.
06:38
Back here to another section,
06:43
and this is our bake shop.
06:45
Of course this was built to support Bouchon Bakery,
06:49
and you can see of course with the size of the equipment,
06:51
and the amount of products we have back here,
06:53
it is very simple to do that.
06:54
We'll walk through here, you can see some of the breads
06:56
that just came out of the oven.
06:58
And Sean Parn, who is our head baker,
07:01
bakes throughout the service every day,
07:04
in other words he's not just baking before service,
07:07
and using that bread.
07:08
He bakes, bread comes out of the oven three times.
07:11
One at 5:30, one at 8:00 and one at 10 o'clock.
07:14
That's three bakes throughout the night so that the guests
07:16
continually get fresh baked bread.
07:25
You can see in our ovens here, we have some epis
07:29
baking right now.
07:32
And then of course
07:33
out here is our receiving area so all the product
07:36
that come into Per Se are coming through this door.
07:39
We also have downstairs, which I don't think
07:40
we need to visit, but we have downstairs
07:42
we have the two locker rooms for our employees,
07:44
as well as a storeroom for extra glass, china, silverware,
07:48
paper products, and another wine cellar down there.
07:52
Enough for another 2,500 bottles of wine,
07:57
we can also store downstairs.
07:58
And that concludes the what, the tour of Per Se, that's it.