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Thomas Keller may be America’s most inspiring chef, a hero to professional cooks as well as to kids headed for culinary school with The French Laundry Cookbook in their bags. At The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in NYC, he creates hyper-elegant yet playful dishes, as in his Oysters & Pearls: a sabayon of pearl tapioca with caviar and oysters. At Ad Hoc in Napa Valley and his five Bouchon Bakeries, he approaches rustic food like fried chicken and quiche with the same passion for every possible (and inconceivable) detail.