Want to give Thomas Keller a thrill? Invite him over for one of his favorite dishes—meat loaf. "Just to have somebody cook for you is an enormously satisfying experience," says the owner of the French Laundry, the American-French eatery in California's Napa Valley that has won three consecutive Mobil Travel Guide
five-star ratings. A two-time James Beard Foundation chef award winner, Keller, 46, knows the way into the hearts of others. Photographer Deborah Jones will never forget her experience shooting the pictures for his 1999 bestseller The French Laundry Cookbook
. "When my hands were full, Thomas would just walk by and put a spoonful of warm risotto in my mouth," she says. "It was heavenly."
Married only to his career, the 6'2" Keller lives next to the restaurant in a Craftsman cottage, but he does find time for girlfriend Laura Cunningham, 34—the Laundry's general manager. "His intensity," she says, "is very attractive."