Food & Drink

Thomas Keller’s surprising money-saving cooking tip

Bouchon Bakery sliders—don't grill them with olive oil. Photo courtesy of the slashfood blog.
Bouchon Bakery sliders. Photo courtesy of the slashfood blog.

Brooklyn foodies are praying Thomas Keller is serious about opening a Bouchon Brooklyn, which reminds me of a cooking tip from the famed chef that you don’t need to be a swell to try. Maybe it is a little hard to believe that the man behind Per Se’s $275 prix fixe menu is a penny pincher, but in a magazine interview I did with him two years ago, he cited cost as one reason never to cook with a common ingredient that may surprise you. I haven’t cooked the same since. “Don’t cook with olive oil,” he says. “It’s such an expensive product and heat ruins it because it has a very low heat tolerance. Cook with canola or grapeseed oil instead and use olive oil as a condiment at the end.” So now you can have your Frankies 457 EVOO and justify the expense by pouring on a few drops at the end instead of dumping it into the pan.

We’re not a cooking blog (lucky for you), but other out-takes from the Keller interview include these three ideas for springy / summery desserts that are really easy to make but sound delish:

– Apricots with almonds and ice cream: Mix Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with fresh peeled apricots, top with toasted slivered almonds on top (buy them raw and toast yourself)
– Toasted pound cake with lemon curd
– Toasted country bread: “Grill some country bread, slice it, put a little bit of butter and sugar on top, throw it on the grill, chop up some fresh figs and mis with orange blossom honey and spread it over grilled bread. It’s really good.”

Okay–one more Keller tip. Be a flexible enough cook that if a recipe calls for plums and the pears look better, swap them in. Go by what’s ripest at the grocery store/greenmarket, not what the recipe says. “Shop with the season and your nose,” Keller says. “If the raw product doesn’t taste good, the finished one won’t taste good either.”


  1. Yep, a wise tip indeed. I don’t know why all these cooking shows (Rachel Ray, I’m looking at you) tell people to cook with extra virgin olive oil. The flavor gets lost and you’ve just wasted your money. Neutral oils are best for cooking (light olive oil, canola oil).

    Save your Frankies 457 for dressings, finishing dishes, and olive oil gelato!

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