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Thomas Keller MasterClass review (2020): Is it worthwhile? My verdict

Our Verdict

5/5
Thomas Keller has three cooking masterclasses. I’ve now taken two of them, and they are excellent. If you’re looking for a primer in cooking, you owe it to yourself to check out his masterclass.

No matter how good we are at something, I truly believe that we can always learn more. 

And if you (like me) think of yourself as a pretty good cook, then you owe it to yourself to check out Thomas Keller’s Masterclasses on Masterclass

That’s right — Masterclasses. He’s got three. 

I had already checked out his first Masterclass, which focuses on kitchen basics (he drills in deep on veggies, eggs, and pasta), but I was ready to try more. 

I am a tryer. And I was ready to try my hand at the big guns: meats, stocks, — the main courses.

And try I did. 

Let’s get into it: here’s my review for Thomas Keller’s Masterclass on cooking techniques. 

What’s the class?

Thomas is teaching cooking. 

This time around it’s “cooking techniques II: meats, stocks and sauces.” 

Y’know — the good stuff. The stuff you whip out at a dinner party. 

The stuff that makes or breaks your Christmas dinner. Seriously, how many times have you found yourself sweating that holiday roast? 

Well, that’s what Keller is here to teach. Over the course of 22 lessons, Thomas Keller walks you through: 

  • How to select your meat
  • How to saute different recipes 
  • Oven roasting meats
  • Braising short ribs
  • Preparing veal stock
  • Whipping up sauces such as veloute and brown chicken sauce

The classes are structured around video lessons (like all Masterclasses), and it comes with a detailed workbook that covers all the recipes and techniques that Keller uses. 

On top of that, there is the community board feature of Masterclass that allows students to post tips, tricks, struggles, and successes with their recipes. While there is no live instruction, it’s got everything you need to make your perfect, meat-centric main course.

It’s a culinary carnivore’s safari, so strap in! 

Who is teaching the class? 

Thomas Keller. 

Ok, but who is Thomas Keller? 

He’s one of the best chefs in the world. He operates The French Laundry in California, a three-michelin star (the highest ranking) restaurant that consistently ranks as one of the best in the world. 

In addition, he operates Per Se, another three star restaurant in New York City. 

The man’s credentials are sterling. He’s indisputably one of the greatest living cooks. 

And he created this class to help aspiring cooks (like me, like you) get their foundation rock-solid. Doesn’t matter if you’re a home chef or if you’re hoping to be a professional chef, foundations are critical for everyone. 

If you’re looking to up your cooking game and learn from the best, this Masterclass is too good of an opportunity to pass up. 

So who is this class for? 

Thomas Keller’s Masterclasses (again he has three) are for cooks who are serious about becoming better chefs. 

You 100% do not have to be a knowledgeable cook to learn from Thomas Keller. 

You do, however, have to be willing to make mistakes. You have to be willing to practice, practice, practice until you get them right. 

Thomas Keller has three classes. We already reviewed one on Ideapod, which we found to be a really great introduction to cooking in general (he has great lessons on kitchen prep, working with heat, dough, and vegetables). 

So I’ll say if you liked that class, you’ll like this one as well. 

I would probably recommend that if you are a newbie-cook (as in, you’re not quite sure what the broil function on your oven is for), you might want to check out part one before you jump into part two. 

If, however, you’re feeling confident around a kitchen, then you can jump right in to Meats, Stocks, and Sauces if that strikes your fancy. 

Who else would like this class? 

People who like meat.

Let’s face it. Plenty of us meat-eaters have sweated around the grill, only to pull off that delicious-looking steak to discover the inside looks like a chewed-up tire. Overcooked! 

Getting meat just right takes time. It takes practice. 

Thomas Keller teaches you how to be better at cooking meat. More importantly, he teaches you how to consistently be better at cooking meat. 

Plus, he takes you away from just the grill. I know that the grill seems to have a magic place in the meat-cooking world, but Keller shows that the stovetop, the oven, even the blowtorch are more than capable of producing superior meat dishes. 

So if you’re looking to elevate your meat game, and you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone, then this is the class for you. 

How much does Thomas Keller’s class cost? 

Great Question. 

All Masterclasses cost $90 if you enroll in only one course. 

For Thomas Keller’s meat class, that’s a pretty good deal. You get taught by one of the greatest living chefs, you get access to 22 videos, a downloadable workbook filled with close to a dozen recipes, and you get to walk away with top notch meat-cooking skills. 

Since Thomas Keller now has three Masterclasses available (the newest is on Desserts), it would cost $270 to enroll individually in all three. 

While all three classes are incredible, I’d be remiss if I didn’t let you in on a secret. 

There’s a cheaper way to get these classes. 

That’s right. For $180, you get unlimited access to all classes on Masterclass for a year. That’s all three Thomas Keller classes, plus any by Gordon Ramsay, plus Dominique Ansel, plus everyone else — for the cost of just two Masterclasses. 

Compared to buying each class individually, it’s a total steal. 

And there are so many great classes available on Masterclass that you’re never going to feel like you’re running out of classes to take. 

If you’re serious about learning all you can from the greats (like Thomas Keller), you definitely should consider a yearly subscription. 

How does Thomas Keller’s class work? 

As mentioned, Thomas Keller’s class is split into parts. Each part is a whole course that costs $90. 

Part two, which I’m reviewing currently, is about meats, stocks, and sauces. 

Each lesson runs from around 10-20 minutes, with Thomas walking you through a specific technique or recipe. 

These recipes build upon each other. For example, you first learn how to saute Chicken Paillard before moving onto sauteing Wiener Schnitzel. 

While they’re similar, wiener schnitzel has a heavier breading that requires some more elevated techniques, as compared to the Paillard. 

In this way, you use the lessons learned in the previous video as the foundation for the next recipe. This allows you to practice what you’ve already learned while stretching yourself to learn something new. 

It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but it’s exciting! 

Each lesson has a comments section underneath, and the class as a whole has a community page where you can post pictures of your creations — along with tips and tricks. 

So, if you’ve had particular success with a recipe, share it with the community! You never know, you may discover a technique that even Keller hadn’t envisioned. 

Meat Cuts and Quality

One of the lessons I found pretty interesting was one of the firsts: on meat cuts and quality. 

Thomas Keller lays out around five different cuts of beef, along with some pork, duck, and chicken. 

It’s a mouthwatering array. 

What’s interesting to me was how the different qualities of the meat seemed to matter more than the cuts. 

Thomas held up a Prime Sirloin. Now, I love a good sirloin, but I’ll be honest — it’s got a bit of a reputation as 2nd fiddle to the Ribeyes, Strips, and Filets of the world. 

But Thomas Keller held up that Prime Sirloin next to a Choice Ribeye, and it was obvious which steak I wanted to cook: the sirloin. 

That prime marbling looked way more flavorful than that lackluster ribeye. 

And that had never clicked with me before. I always thought there was a hierarchy to the cuts of beef, and no amount of flavor + marbling could change that. 

I clearly was wrong. Quality matters. Quality can elevate any cut over another. 

Learning this was inspiring. It made me want to go out and try different cuts of steak at higher qualities — to branch out from my comfort zone. 

If you’re looking to be challenged, surprised, and inspired in your cooking, give this class a try. 

Prime Rib 

I’ll admit: I was looking for a big meat dish to make for the Fourth of July this year. 

And I’m tired of hot dogs. 

So the Prime Rib caught my eye. A huge slab of delicious, marbled beef, gently roasted to a medium-rare perfection (I’m more of a rare guy, but my guests aren’t). 

Thomas Keller’s teaches you how to slow-roast a Prime Rib so that it is the same doneness from end to end. 

This is a game changer. Typically, when you roast meats, the inside is less done than the outside, resulting in a spectrum of doneness. With Keller’s technique, the entire roast comes out at a beautiful, rosy medium-rare. 

Plus, you get to blowtorch it beforehand. 

While blowtorching the prime rib was cool, I was confused as to why we were blowtorching the meat. It didn’t make a ton of sense to me. 

He doesn’t ever address it, but I suspect it’s because it helps the fat render early in the process. Plus, since his method uses lower cooking temperatures, it may get the outside layer to that bacteria-free temperature quickly. 

I’m not sure. That was my main complaint. 

Regardless, the meat was beautiful. It’s a great lesson for those home cooks looking to get that consistently beautiful, medium-rare steak. 

I’m tired of eating medium-well by accident. Red meat needs to be red! 

Thanks to Thomas Keller, it can be. Every time. 

What are my alternatives? 

If you’re looking for Thomas Keller instruction, there aren’t a lot of other alternatives. 

One of the closest would be buying a Thomas Keller cookbook. Cookbooks are traditionally how chefs pass on their teachings, and Keller is no exception. If you think that you can get the hang of things without video instruction, a cookbook is a great and economic choice. 

If you’re looking for other cooking instruction, you could always turn to: 

  • Food Network
    • Food Network has been teaching home cooks great recipes for decades. 
    • The downside is that you’re learning from celebrity chefs aka tv personalities
    • Food Network doesn’t cost $180 a year!
    • There are many different chefs to learn from 
  • Youtube
    • There are tons of great cooking videos on Youtube
    • The downside is you have to search them out. 
      • Quality Control isn’t the greatest
    • But there are some great gems. 
      • I learned how to make Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon off of Youtube.
  • Skillshare
    • Cheaper than Masterclass at $99 per year, plus 2 months free
    • Like Youtube, has a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to instructor quality
    • Has thousands upon thousands of courses (cooking included)
    • Courses are shorter than what Thomas Keller offers.

Ultimately, it boils (ha) down to what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to learn how to nail a medium rare reverse seared steak, and you want to learn it in 6 minutes, go on Youtube. 

If you’re looking to really learn the foundations of cooking meat, don’t sell yourself short. Enroll in Thomas Keller’s class. 

So what are the pros? 

As with any review, there were a lot of things I liked, and a few things I wish could have been better. 

Let’s start with what was great. 

  • Super informative
    • Thomas Keller walks you through meat selection to preparation to perfection. He’s a practical, calm, but exacting chef who shows you how to prepare restaurant-quality main courses at your home. 
  • Great variety of recipes. 
    • From sauteed chicken to braised short ribs to rib roast to brown chicken sauce, Thomas Keller teaches you an impressive array of dishes that you can use as a foundation for further exploration and innovation. 
  • Workbook
    • I love the masterclass workbooks. Keller’s has all of the class’s recipes, along with helpful tips and explanations. It’s available in PDF form, so you can access it on many different devices. 
  • The food is good. 
    • It’s delicious food. He’s not teaching you how to whip up a dump cake or a jell-o salad. It’s good, real food that you’ll want to make again. 
  • The food isn’t outrageously complicated. 
    • It’s meat. He doesn’t complicate it. The recipes make the meat the star. They may be time-consuming, but they’re not rocket science. Keller does a great job illustrating how to make simple into beautiful. 

And the cons? 

There were a few things I wished were better. 

  • Some things aren’t explained. 
    • Why did we blowtorch the prime rib? I’m still guessing. It would have been nice to know why. 
  • Some advice is less practical. 
    • Building a relationship with your meat sourcer is not always practical for home cooks. Sometimes, we just need to know which grocery stores will be ok to get good steaks. I’m not working with a rancher, here!
  • Course feels anticlimactic. 
    • This is a small complaint, but we go from the big meat dishes in the beginning to a chicken sauce at the end. I wish Keller had chosen an exciting dish to finish the class with! 

Is Thomas Keller’s Masterclass worth it? 

For me personally, the answer is simple: yes. 

Yes, Thomas Keller’s Masterclass on cooking techniques II: meats, stocks, and sauces is worth it. 

Thomas Keller now has 3 courses on masterclass, each covering different fundamentals of cooking.

I’ve only tried the first two, but they’re both unqualified successes, and I have every reason to suspect that the third will be just as good. 

If you’re looking for a primer in cooking, you owe it to yourself to check out his masterclass. 

Again, this one focused heavily on meats, and it’s an amazing class for building your comfort at cooking meat. 

But if you’re looking to expand your cooking beyond meat (why not tackle pasta?), then you owe it to yourself to check out all three of these classes. 

And when you’re looking at taking all three of his masterclasses, this is when the subscription model for Masterclass starts to make a lot more sense. 

Remember, a single masterclass is $90. A yearly subscription is $180. 

If you were to enroll in all three of Keller’s masterclasses, you’d spend $270 on those classes alone. 

At that point, it’d be crazy not to just pull the trigger on getting the yearly subscription. 

The subscription gets you access to ALL masterclasses. There are no limits on how many classes you can take. 

You can take classes simultaneously. You can jump back and forth between all three of Keller’s cooking classes if you wished. 

That’s the takeaway for me. While these classes are excellent on their own, they are outstanding in union. Together, they present a holistic approach to cooking that any aspiring chef would be lucky to learn. 

So yes. I highly recommend Keller’s masterclass on meats. 

I also recommend his other Masterclasses available. 

And the most cost-effective way to enjoy all of them really is the yearly subscription. I’m getting great mileage out of it. 

And I can’t wait to check out Keller’s third course. On to dessert! . 

Check out Keller’s MasterClass here or get the All-Access Pass here.

Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
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