Thomas Keller on Having Desire Over Passion

By Nancy Smorch

“It’s not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it’s about desire. If you have constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you’ll be a great cook. If it’s only about passion, sometimes you’ll be good and sometimes you won’t. You’ve got to come in every day with a strong desire.

"With passion, if you see the first asparagus of the springtime and you become passionate about it, so much the better, but three weeks later, when you’ve seen that asparagus every day now, passions have subsided. What’s going to make you treat the asparagus the same?  It’s the desire.”

- Thomas Keller

I can’t remember how I came across this quote by Thomas Keller, but I have it written in my calendar and I remind myself of it often - not just in reference to food, but for life in general.  To read the full source of the quote, click here.

In case you’re not familiar with Thomas Keller, he’s the founder and owner of such notable restaurants as French Laundry in Napa, California, Bouchon Bistro (Napa, Beverly Hills, and Las Vegas), Bouchon Bakery, the ad hoc restaurant (also in Napa), and per se restaurant in Manhattan.  His famed French Laundry requires reservations months in advance. Ringing any bells now?


We had the pleasure of stopping in at the Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, California a couple of years ago when we were in Napa Valley.  We bought a few of their famous Bouchons - little cork- shaped, chocolate delights.  I had no idea what to expect, but they were amazing!  I had to have the recipe, and luckily for me, on a trip to Miami I happened to go into a William Sonoma store and saw the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. I scanned through it and found the recipe!

I’ve been making them ever since.


I also use Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour in the recipe, as formulated by Lena Kwak. She was the Research & Development Chef at French Laundry, and partnered with Thomas Keller to bring this wonderful gluten-free flour to the rest of the world.  It is, by far, the best gluten-free flour available, in my opinion.

So, back to the quote.

I’ve often said that I have a number of passions, but after reading this quote and looking at the actions I have taken in my life, I realized that it is the strong desire for good-quality amazing tasting food that drives me every day - drives me to grow food in my garden, drives me to seek the best quality and best tasting food for my family, drives me to do research and ask questions, drives me to experiment in the kitchen, drives me to see just how much of a difference food can make in my and my family’s health.

What strong desire do you have that is shaping your life?