A restaurant kitchen is the perfect incubator for those who thrive under pressure. Life lessons come hard and fast, seared into memory and carved into the subconscious almost immediately. Cooks learn techniques, adapt quickly and do so repeatedly until these acts become as natural as breathing.
We live by a saying at the French Laundry: Do a little better each day. This lesson Grant Achatz, 36, took to heart very early on in his career. He got it. You saw it in his intense gaze. This singular purpose allowed him to overcome many adversities and successfully establish Alinea and Next, distinct, thoughtful restaurants that refine the standards of our profession through Grant's visionary take on modernist cuisine. I have always believed that there are many cooks in the world but not many chefs in the true sense of the word. Grant exemplifies the modern chef and nothing, not even tongue cancer, has impeded his vision and desire. While his culinary achievements have been many, knowing Grant, I expect his best is yet to come.
Keller is an award-winning chef and entrepreneur