Thomas Keller Cooking Demo – Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2009

As Mike and I arrived in beautiful Pebble Beach we both headed off to our first events. He went to the Vérité tasting and I went to the Thomas Keller cooking demo. For those of you who need an introduction Keller is the renown owner/chef of The French Laundry, Bouchon, Ad Hoc and Per Se. Things started off with a quick intro by the head honcho at Food & Wine Magazine Editor-in-Chief Dana Cowin. This was the first time I had seen Chef Keller in the flesh and he was very personable and humorous.

He wasted no time and immediately began making two gnocchi dishes: a classic potato gnocchi with mushrooms and peas then a flour based choux dough gnocchi with onions and a garlic emulsion. Keller made the whole process look  easy but I guarantee it isn’t. He grew up making gnocchi with his Nona. She said that you know when the dough is ready when it feels like your earlobe. Thomas said that the key to making great gnocchi is practice. The more times you make it the better it gets. Don’t expect it to turn out perfect the first time.

Throughout his demo he stressed three things:

1.  Seasonal cooking is essential to making a successful dish. Everyone should have a garden.

2. The importance of getting kids in the kitchen and cooking.

3.  Salt, Salt and more Salt (he loves this stuff). He talked about it at length. He feels salt enhances flavors unlike pepper which can change flavors. That is one thing I noticed while eating at Ad Hoc the food is always seasoned perfectly.

goodiesAs the cooking came to a close my mouth was watering and I was ready to eat but the gnocchi would not be mine. This was the first demo I’ve been to where you didn’t get to sample the goods at the end (a bit of a let down) so I can’t tell you if the food was tasty (who are we kidding …of course it was) but I can tell you that it smelled heavenly. What we did receive was a cool gift bag that had 4 chocolate bouchons and a French Laundry/ Pebble Beach apron. Spending the morning with Thomas Keller was a fun experience and I’m excited to make gnocchi at home for Mike, he loves them (ya…he will probably end up making them for me…😆).

RECIPES: Here is copy of the handouts I received.


2 Responses

  1. Nicole and I took our first stab at Thomas Keller’s potato gnocci. We made a couple of substitutions: used whole wheat flour, shitake mushrooms, pinot grigio vinegar. The recipe warns against handling the dough too much. Our test gnocci was great. The others weren’t as smooth as they could have been (ie. we could have mixed the dough more). All in it was good but TOO salty!! Way too salty. Would have used half as much in the dough. The peas and mushrooms were delicious and no you don’t end up eating 1.5 lbs of butter! Amazing how much gnocci comes from two potatoes!

  2. Barnaby – thanks for the tip on the salt. Mike and I have still not attempted the gnocchi but we will keep that in mind when we do.

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