Chef Thomas Keller in the Per Se kitchenGetty Images

The entire fine dining world felt the shockwaves of New York Times critic Pete Wells’ scathing review of Per Se. The short version: bong water, napkins thrown in frustration, “dull at best.”

Chef Thomas Keller describes the review as “devastating” in a new profile in Town & Country, his first time speaking about the review published back in January. "Maybe we were complacent," he tells the magazine. "I learned that, maybe, as a team we were a little bit too arrogant, our egos too exposed."

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In response to the review, the chef visited each of his restaurants and told the staff to pay renewed attention to each diner. “Our goal is for every one of them to walk out the door and say, 'What the hell was [Wells] talking about?'"


Keller concedes that even in a fine dining restaurant, where everything is calibrated to the last detail, the customer deserves the experience they want. "Your diner's perception is reality, and you do whatever you can to please him.”

However, don’t expect (as some have suggested) any major changes to the Per Se experience: “We don't have to totally rethink what we are doing, because we believe in what we do."

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