With a presence in The World's 50 Best Restaurants since the inaugural list 10 years ago, Thomas Keller is a true colossus of the gastronomic world. His iconic restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., effectively revolutionized American cooking, combining classical French techniques with distinctive, locally sourced quality ingredients years before such an approach became de rigueur.
For two years The French Laundry topped the list of The World's 50 Best Restaurants (2003, 2004) and built up global notoriety for individual dishes such as Oysters & Pearls, Salmon Cornets and Coffee & Donuts that have since become famous in their own right.
Per Se, which opened in New York in 2004, is Keller's' 'urban interpretation' of The French Laundry and sets equally high standards of food and service. With two three-star restaurants on opposite coasts, Keller has passed day to day cooking responsibilities over to his respective chefs de cuisine, but his philosophy, influence and sheer presence still dominates both restaurants.
Further afield, Keller is revered across the world by chefs and diners alike for his graciousness, collaborative nature and enduring ability to inspire culinary perfection.
William Drew, Editor of Restaurant magazine, says: "Chef Keller has long been an inspirational figure in the restaurant world – not just to the numerous chefs that have worked under him but too many others who have tasted his wonderful food or simply admired it from afar. His restaurants' ever-presence on the World's 50 Best list is a testament in itself to the enduring brilliance of this most respected of culinary masters."
"I am extremely honored to have been selected to receive this year's World's 50 Best Restaurants Lifetime Achievement Award, says Thomas Keller "But what I am most excited about is the opportunity to celebrate this recognition with my friends and colleagues after the event! We've pushed the envelope and inspired each other through the years – we are all in this together."
The award is voted for by the World's 50 Best Restaurant Academy which includes 27 Chairs from around the world and an 837 strong voting panel. In receiving this accolade, Keller joins the S.Pellegrino Lifetime Achievement hall of fame alongside Juan Mari Arzak, Eckart Witzigmann and Joël Robuchon. He will be presented with his award on 30th April 2012 at The World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards ceremony, held at London's Guildhall.