By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
Born in Alsace, France, Hubert Keller is one of Americas most acclaimed chefs, known best for his world-renowned restaurants Fleur de Lys, San Francisco and Fleur, Las Vegas, plus the Burger Bar in Las Vegas and San Francisco. Having caught the eyes, ears and palates of top food writers, Keller is the recipient of numerous awards including the James Beard Foundation’s lifetime achievement award of “Who’s Who” in the industry.
His influence extends beyond his restaurant kitchen to the millions of people he reaches through his cookbooks and TV show, “Secrets of a Chef” on PBS. In 2006 he debuted on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” and later in 2009 he appeared as a contestant on “Master Top Chef.” There he won an army of new followers and new found respect from peers for famously cooking pasta in a college dorm room shower!!
“Being a chef to me is about touching people and their lives with my cuisine.”
Chef Hubert Keller, Executive Chef/Owner
A graduate of Ecole Hoteliere in Strasbourg, Keller started as a pastry chef and honed his culinary skills by working with master chef’s such as Paul Haeberlin, Roger Verge, Paul Bocuse, Jacques Maximin and Gaston Lenotre.
Ranked as one of the “10 Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine in 1988. He was the first guest chef at the White House, where he prepared a gourmet dinner for President Clinton and his family.
He is also the author of “Burger Bar: Build Your Own Ultimate Burgers” (Wiley 2009) with Penelope Wisner, in bookstores now. Yes this amazing French chef has mastered the art of the perfect burger and has two Burger Bar‘s to showcase his work. His “FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR FLEUR BURGER” is known around the world for being the most expensive on any restaurant menu. Fact is, the foie gras and shaved truffle stuffed burger comes with a five thousand dollar bottle of wine so the burger is really FREE. Dozens of Las Vegas “winners” have ordered the pricey menu item and after doing so sport the certificate that comes with the meal as a Sin City badge of honour!!
Chef Hubert has an interesting passion outside the kitchen, to many he is also known as “DJ Hubert.” He took up the art of playing club music (mainly house music) after receiving a gift of turntables from his generous wife, Chantal. Yes friends this Michelin starred master of fine French cuisine also waves his hands in the air and goes “four to the floor” when behind the turntables. This fine chef and knob-twiddler can fill a dance floor like he fills a restaurant and has done so many times serving up a winning recipe of tasty “house music” tunes. His Bastille Day celebration with friend and DJ Frenchy Le Freak at Club Ruby Skye in San Francisco is the “must attend” event of the annual French holiday.
He resides in San Francisco and Las Vegas with his beautiful and talented wife of 32 years and his business partner, Chantal Keller (Known also for her superb sense of style. You think Hubert picks out those wild shirts?).
To eat at Fleur de Lys (celebrating 25 years this year) is to enjoy the cuisine of a true culinary artist serving up rich, delicious and indeed elegant fine French cuisine. Every meal is a right royal culinary treat and Chef’s team make it so. To cook with Chef Keller or spend time in his kitchen is a priceless gift. I recently had the pleasure of doing both for our Foodie Chap chat at Fleur de Lys in San Francisco.
Ladies and Gentleman I present to you “the one the only french culinary King – Chef Hubert Keller!!”
5 Tasty Questions with Chef Hubert Keller
1. In your fridge at home, what will we always find?
There is always flavored vodka, at least three or four different kinds, for when my friends are coming over, some vanilla ice cream in the freezer for sure, some jams, because I love jam in the morning and of course some ice cubes to go with the vodka!
2. What kind of music do you love to listen to when you’re cooking?
I would say some Electro music or some really funky House music.
3. Who is the V.I.P. that you’ve most enjoyed cooking for?
President Clinton. I must say that was a highlight in my career and it was actually at the White House.
4. What are your words to live by?
I would say excellence, wildness and sophistication.
5. At your last supper you can have a few guests, dead or alive, who would be there and what would you eat?
First of all I think when it comes to guests definitely, Jack Nicholson, I would be totally wild to actually meet him, Angelina Jolie is a must, and of course Napoleon. I would serve a big jar of caviar just plain with a little lime and toast, that’s it, and lots of crème fraiche. I would go with vanilla ice cream at the end of the meal and in between I’d have one of those huge 45oz Tomahawks with lots of béarnaise sauce.
Liam: Who cares about a diet? It’s your last supper! Chef Hubert Keller, Thank You.
Halibut Cheeks on a Bed of Basquaise, Speck and Red Wine Essence
Ingredients for the Cheeks
12 Halibut cheeks
1 tablespoon Flour
3 ½ tablespoon Virgin olive oil
½ Medium onion
1-2 Garlic clove, finely minced
9-10 Piquillo peppers
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon Thyme leafs
2 tablespoons Small capers
1 tablespoon Caper vinegar
12-14 Fingerling potatoes
¼ cup Speck, julienned
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Ingredients for the Red Wine Essence
½ tablespoon Virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Shallot, minced
2 cups Pinot noir
1 cup Port wine
1 teaspoon Thyme, minced
1 ½ cup Brown chicken broth or beef broth
2 Heads garlic roasted and peeled
1 tablespoon Butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
To prepare the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan and cook the shallots for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Add the red wine, port and thyme and reduce until ¼ cup remains. Add the broth and reduce to ½ cup. Add half of the roaster garlic. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the sauce and return to a clean saucepan over low heat and stir in the butter. Add the remaining garlic cloves, salt and pepper and keep warm. If the sauce is too thick, stir in a little eater to thin.
Slice the fingerling potatoes in small thin disks thick like a Nickel. Wash the potatoes, drain and dry them in a paper towel. Sauté the potatoes in one tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat (preferably using a non stick sauté pan) Sauté until the potatoes slices are tender and crisp. Season with salt and pepper and add the speck on the last minute before serving
Meanwhile prepare the Basquaise, using a sauté pan, over medium high heat, sauté the onion and garlic in 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil for 5 minutes until the onions are getting tender and not browned. Add the piquillo, bay leaf, salt and pepper and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add the capers, vinegar and fresh thyme. Sautee for 30 seconds and set aside.
In the same time, season the Halibut cheeks (at room temperature) with salt and pepper. Flour them lightly and sauté them in one spoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat for 3 minutes on one side until golden brown and crispy, turn them over and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Using a diner plate, display in the center of the plate a bed of sautéed fingerling potatoes. Top with the sautéed Halibut cheeks. Top the fish with the Basquaise and spoon the red wine sauce all around the cheeks
Note: when serving the Basquaise, serve it warm or hot but never over heat it, since the amount of oil would start frying the ingredients, and you would not end up with the same result.
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