Hauptli would, basically, chat up any cook who crossed his path in restaurants.Some have since become friends, such as Stefanelli, the chef and owner behind Masseria.
He moves through his kitchen with a casual grace, offering a glass of 2002 Krug champagne to his guests while returning, time and again, to focus on his plates.
His breezy hospitality suggests a professional who’s firmly in control.
Hauptli has adopted one of the chef’s principal doctrines, which Keller has etched into his kitchen at Per Se, where a sign hangs under a Vacheron Constantin clock.
It reads, simply, “Sense of Urgency.” “It’s a philosophy that I took from Keller and brought it into the work environment at AAAE,” Hauptli says.
[A world-class chef built a $600 pop-up in the Mexican jungle.
It might be ‘the meal of the decade.’] Befriending a chef is one thing.
But it’s a rare person who dines in the nation’s finest restaurants and thinks, I must re-create this at home!
And it’s perhaps a borderline masochist who takes it a step further and thinks, I’ll invite chefs over, cook them Thomas Keller’s food and prepare every course by myself! They’re thrilled that they’re in somebody else’s care.” Still, chefs have been impressed with Hauptli’s skills, particularly his organizational skills.
“What sealed the deal for me was his rack of lamb,” says Kathy, who handles much of the day-to-day cooking at home.
What sealed the deal for Hauptli — in terms of his budding culinary hobby — was a trip to now-shuttered Maestro in Tysons Corner, where Fabio Trabocchi led the kitchen long before he opened Fiola, Fiola Mare and his other local restaurants.