Thomas Keller: On a trip to Napa Valley one spring day, Jonathan Waxman, who is a friend of mine who had opened a restaurant in New York and now is opening a restaurant here in Napa Valley. I stopped to see him, say hello, see how he was doing. And he had told me about this small restaurant in Yountville for sale called The French Laundry and I should look into that. He thought that would be the perfect kind of place for me, small, manageable, in a beautiful community here in Napa Valley. So I passed by out of curiosity. And I walked on the property. It was kind of this magical place, and I just felt an instant connection to it. And I thought, “Wow, this may be a great opportunity for me. It may be my last chance.” I was in my mid-30s. I thought, “If I’m going to do this, I need to do it now.” And I went back to Los Angeles. I got in contact with the owners, Don and Sally Schmitt. I explained my intentions. They invited me up to meet them. I came up. I remember she served me on that day. She served me one of the best sandwiches I ever had, which was beef tongue. We sat in their kitchen in their house next door. We made an instant connection, and we agreed on a price, and I was going to buy The French Laundry. Of course I didn’t have any resources whatsoever. I didn’t have a job. I had already closed two restaurants. I had been fired from another. I was a semi-well-known chef with, I guess, a checkered reputation, and now I needed to go out and raise the money to buy this restaurant. I was in an area in California — I was in Los Angeles — I didn’t really know that area that well. I had only been there for a year, but I was determined. I was committed. If I was going to make a career, if I was going to be successful in my chosen vocation, I needed to raise this money. I needed to commit myself to doing something I had never done before. And I always say my biggest asset at the time was my ignorance. Had I known everything that I was going to have to do over the course of the next 18 months, I would have given up right away. It was such a daunting task, the things that I went through. But each day, waking up each day finding some success kept me motivated to the next day.