Entrepreneurs: Chef's Surprise

How does America's top chef expand his franchise without sacrificing his pursuit of perfection?

It is mid-January, and Thomas Keller, one of the country's most celebrated chefs, has just arrived from Napa Valley, Calif., to the coldest weather in New York City in 10 years. Over the weekend the pipes froze and burst in the new high-rise Time Warner Center building where his restaurant, Per Se, is located, so there is no water. The floor in his kitchen is being re-laid for the third time to get it level. The fire alarm keeps going off with flashing lights and a deafening siren, and platoons of electricians, plasterers and carpenters are working frantically to get the...

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