Thomas Keller’s Book-Signing Event at Ad Hoc

Ad Hoc Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz (left) and the one and only Chef Thomas Keller (right).

Enjoying nibbles of the fabled fried chicken and perfect little meatballs, a throng queued up happily at Ad Hoc restaurant in Yountville on Saturday morning.

They were there for Chef Thomas Keller’s signing of his best-selling “Ad Hoc at Home” (Artisan) cookbook. The invitation-only event was for “friends and family” of the restaurant. And yours truly was lucky enough to be one of the guests.

Inside the restaurant...

...all set up for the book signing...

A restaurant mascot.

Keller, looking dapper in a sports coat, sat at a back table with Ad Hoc Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz, as both took turns signing each book.

Keller’s always had an uncanny ability for nailing all the little details. The book signing was no different, as a hostess actually took the time to announce the name of each guest to Keller as he or she stepped up to the table to greet the world famous chef, who signed each book with a script as stylish in form as calligraphy.

A lollipop version of the fabled Ad Hoc fried chicken.

Crisp, seasoned beautifully, and moist and juicy as can be.

Cruz, who was born in the Philippines, chatted with me about how he only came to cooking nine years ago. Prior to that, he worked the front of the house instead. And before that, he was an engineering student — a field no stranger to anyone raised by an Asian parent, we both chuckled.

Keller’s fiancee, Laura Cunningham, also was on hand, greeting visitors. On her left hand, she sported the gorgeous engagement ring that Keller designed for her. The timelessly elegant setting of three size-able diamonds is quite the dazzler.

Tender little meatballs to nibble on.

Brioche with fig-balsamic jam

A tidbit of incredible beef stroganoff.

Velvety, rich cream of cauliflower soup.

All the while, servers offered miniature tastes of some of the recipes from the book, including cream of cauliflower soup, toasted brioche dolloped with fig-balsamic jam, and sauteed shrimp with garlic.

In a nod to the hit animated movie, “Ratatouille,” in which Keller provides the voice of one of the minor characters and the kitchen operations were modeled after those at his French Laundry restaurant, little cups of the classic tomato-eggplant stew were even offered.

The scene at Ad Hoc.

As folks lined up to get two, four, even six copies of the book signed, there’s little doubt as to what’s going to be the most popular foodie present found under Christmas trees this season.

More: My Fried Chicken Dinner at Ad Hoc


More: The Ad Hoc Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

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Date: Monday, 7. December 2009 5:20
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Chefs, Enticing Events, General, Restaurants, Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al

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  1. 1

    Ad Hoc At Home is on my wishlist for X-mas this year.

  2. 2

    How neat that they were offering the tastings of some of the recipes at the book signing!

  3. 3

    You always attend the coolest events! :)

  4. 4

    Looks like it was a lot of fun! I wanted to go to the Omnivore Books signing, but didn’t have it in me to deal with the crowds. Sigh. Another time! I am still dying to get my hands on the book! :)

  5. 5

    Man, I am so jealous! That looks like an incredible event to attend. I still want to try one of his restaurants. Some day!

  6. 6

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  7. 7

    Went to a booksigning Sunday with Keller at Omnivore, but no food was served. Dang it! ;-) I would have loved to sip that cauliflower soup. But Keller and Cruz were very gracious.

  8. 8

    Lucky you to get an invitation to such a fun and fabulous event! I’ve been hearing so much about this cookbook, I’ll have to get it. The food you enjoyed looks incredible.

  9. 9

    Wow, what a nice event…and glad that you had fun!

  10. 10

    Carolyn I need invitations for these type of cool event with tastings in the future :)



  11. 11

    Wow! What a privileged experience. I finally had a chance to dine at Ad Hoc about a month ago and happened to go on a night that Chef Cruz was serving a sous vide flatiron steak with a tomato compound butter. The dish was accompanied by roasted onions, mission figs and crisp, smoky bacon — one of the best plates of food I’ve had in a long, long time. Just picked up the book at can’t wait to try out the fried chicken recipe.

  12. 12

    I just read about this event on Inuyaki’s blog. Even better, I checked out your blog to find even more mouthwatering photos from the event. Everything looks so good. It must be a sign for me to head back to Ad Hoc.

  13. 13

    That’s a brilliant idea to be given some nibblies from the book! It would definitely help sell books I would think! :D

  14. 14

    Oh, Carolyn, I want your life!! Except I think I would get hugely fat.

  15. 15

    Sigh…and sigh again…

    Glad you got to go and wish I could get a copy of his book! I’ve never been to Ad Hoc and will have to put it on my to-go list when I get back to the Bay Area. Until then, I’ll just keep dreaming…

  16. 16

    Jealous I am! Thanks for sharing the great photos of the event. I, on the other hand, stood out in the cold for two hours at Williams Sonoma at Stanford on Sunday. Both Thomas Keller and David Cruz were wonderful to stay an extra hour or more to sign books for everyone who showed up. We were nearly at the end of the line and both were very kind even though I am sure they were tired and had major arm cramps by then.

  17. 17

    Sounds like a great event!

  18. 18

    What an experience – I’d love to have met Thomas Keller, as someone who has his cookbooks and loves watching what he does – I’m in awe! Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you – minus the calories, but it would have been so worth it!

  19. 19

    Hmmm – we’re going to wine country next summer and are tossing up between Ad Hoc and Bouchon… Decisions, decisions…. I wanted to see TK in Toronto but he was only speaking at an event that cost $80 and was not doing book signings :-(

  20. 20

    Mardi: Both Bouchon and Ad Hoc are wonderful. The former lets you order a la carte and is grounded in classic French bistro dishes. The latter is more modern-day comfort food with one set menu each day, served family-style. Don’t forget to check out Bouchon Bakery while you’re there, too. Awesome bread, macarons, Nutter Butter cookies, croissants, etc.

  21. 21

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  22. 22

    Lucky, lucky, lucky that you were invited to the book signing! I so wanted to go, and asked repeatedly when that would be. Really can’t complain, we’re treated really, really well there.

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