Pebble Beach Food & Wine: Thomas Keller's Tent Revival


Though this may sound pretty obvious, people really like chefs. This morning, en route to "Lexus brings a moment with Thomas Keller," I encountered some women in the hallway. "Make sure you get Tom Colicchio's autograph!" Just like Sara wrote in her blog, the ladies are all over Tom Colicchio like white on rice. However, this level of adoration was NOTHING compared to the scene inside the cooking demo tent, Thomas Keller presiding.

I have never been to a church revival, but the scene inside that tent is what I imagine it's like. There's a stage, of course, with rows of chairs. As Keller worked the tent pre-demo, fans stood up and reached out to him, seeming oddly like disciples. They cited meals they'd eaten at various Keller restaturants, other demos they'd seen. He shook hands and signed programs, generally being a good sport. The adoration reached a fever-pitch when Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin glowingly introduced him, calling him "the best we have in America today." Can I get a hallelujah!

Overall, you get the feeling that Keller has done a great number of these demos. It was thoughtful and well-done, even funny. Tom Colicchio came up again during the demo (he and Keller are collaborating on a dinner Saturday night). Keller's quote: "Tommy Colicchio is a good friend. He's done a lot for New York restaurants. We won't talk about Bravo, but everything else he's done had been really good." Snap!

There was no fire or brimstone talk, but towards the end, when the gnocchi had been plated and the questions answered, I almost wished there was a period when the blind came forward—along with the people who can't boil water or make toast without incident. Keller could lay his hands on the believers, and they would be healed. Alas, the demonstration concluded with a mere book signing.

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