Thomas Keller — the famed chef and restaurateur behind New York City restaurants Per Se, Bouchon Bakery, and the now-closed TAK Room — appears to have deleted his Twitter account this week after receiving criticism for posting a remembrance of Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and major conservative donor who died on January 11.
“Thank you for your support of The Venetian, Bouchon Las Vegas, and more. You will be missed,” Keller wrote in the tweet, which along with his Twitter account has since been deleted. Commenters on the social media platform were quick to criticize Keller for his support of Adelson, a megadonor to right-wing causes and the founder of the world’s largest gaming company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
Keller’s remembrance of Adelson isn’t the first time his social media posts have been perceived as empathetic to controversial conservative figures. In April, President Donald Trump named Keller to the White House’s so-called “Great American Economic Revival Industry Group,” an all-male panel that included restaurateurs Wolfgang Puck, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Daniel Boulud, as well as representatives from corporations like Chick-fil-A, Subway, and Pepsi.
Seemingly unaware that the council could provoke a negative reaction on social media, Keller tweeted on April 15, 2020 that he was “honored” to be named to the group and was “proud to work together towards a strategy where the safety of Americans is top of mind in conjunction towards economic revitalization.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Roughly two weeks after that tweet, his three-Michelin-star restaurant the French Laundry received two unusually large loans through the Paycheck Protection Program in April 2020, totaling $2.4 million. The loans, which amounted to roughly 17 times more than what the average Bay Area restaurant received, were approved at a time when other restaurateurs in the country were being told that the program’s funding had run dry.
It’s not clear at this time whether Keller deleted his Twitter account in response to the backlash that followed from his tweet about Adelson, however, the restaurateur appears to still be active on Instagram, having posted a promotion for his retail shop Finesse, The Store on January 13. Eater has reached out multiple times to the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group for more information.
Adelson’s sizable net worth — around $35 billion, according to Forbes — has been used to back conservative politicians in the United States and in Israel, the birthplace of his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson. Adelson and his wife donated $93 million to the Republican presidential campaign in 2012, $82.5 million to Republican groups in 2016, and $350 million to Republican candidates in 2018 and 2020. In both 2016 and 2020, the couple was the biggest donor to the Trump campaign.
Adelson’s global chain of casinos and hotels has attracted big restaurant names, including David Chang, Wolfgang Puck, and Keller, who operates a location of Bouchon Bistro in Adelson’s Venice-themed Las Vegas resort the Venetian.