Thomas Keller’s MasterClass: A Master Guide on Gourmet Cooking and Living

Credit...Craig Lee for The New York Times

By Siyang Lian, age 17, The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Conn.

Butter bubbles over medium-low heat, the flames gently kissing the bottom of the pan. “Add water to help with the emulsification.” Jewels of fat swirl around two Maine lobster tails. Just as they turn a delicate red, I plate them with orzo cooked with lobster sauce and a generous piece of Parmesan tuile. Bon appétit.

As someone who previously cooked only eggs and instant ramen, I never imagined that I’d be recreating Michelin-style dishes at home. But Thomas Keller’s comprehensive MasterClass course allowed me to go from kitchen Neanderthal to gourmet home chef in six weeks. His class not only taught me how to cook iconic dishes from his famed restaurant The French Laundry, but also changed the way I think about food, community and life.

The beauty of Thomas Keller’s teaching approach is that he breaks down complex recipes into manageable steps, making this a perfect course for beginners and experts alike. Beginners will appreciate his emphasis on kitchen setup, knife skills and cookware, and ingredient sourcing, while experts can skip ahead to more convoluted dishes like the Salt-Baked Branzino With Fennel and Red Pepper.

The course is broken down into three series, beginning with the fundamentals of vegetables, pasta and eggs; before moving on to meats, stocks and sauces; and ending with the more advanced seafood, sous vide and desserts. Each series builds upon skills learned in the previous one: to make the butter-poached lobster featured in series three, you need the pasta-cooking technique from series one, as well as the poaching technique and chicken stock preparation taught in series two. Keller may be a Michelin-level chef, but his meticulous and patient approach to teaching fundamentals, including both a video demonstration and written recipe, give beginners like me the confidence to try intimidating dishes.

Keller’s course goes beyond traditional cooking — it fundamentally changes how you approach food and community. As Keller explains, the things that make food taste good — freshness, sustainability, and organic and locally-grown ingredients — go hand in hand with caring for the environment. Keller teaches us that cooking isn’t just about following a recipe; it’s about paying attention to where ingredients come from and how to best combine and cook those ingredients in a way that can bring us and our loved ones joy and deliciousness.

This past year, I’ve cooked food more complex and delicious than I previously thought myself capable of. More important, though, I’ve learned to approach food — and life — in a more deliberate and conscientious way, making sure I build a solid foundation before moving on to tackle intricate, dazzling dishes. Thomas Keller’s MasterClass has something to teach each of us on how to cook, eat and live.