There are few other restaurants in the United States which have had a bigger impact nationwide, as an inspiration and a reference of the best. Many recognised chefs have used The French Laundry as a stepping-stone in their careers. The restaurant has become an American legend and one of the most significant flagship restaurants in the country and it can easily compete on any international level as well.
Chef Patron Thomas Keller travelled around in France in young years when he was an apprentice, and he became inspired and fascinated by the top restaurants on the countryside where many of the most famous chefs have their restaurants. It was perfect timing when a friend of Keller in the early 1990’s recommended visiting a small town north of San Francisco named Yountville for the opportunity of creating and opening a similar countryside restaurant like the very best Chef Keller had visited in France.
The building the restaurant is housed in was built in 1900 as a saloon, was later turned into a residence, and was then used as a French steam laundry in the 1920’s. The building was not used as a restaurant until 1978 when town mayor Don Schmitt and his wife Sally turned it into a restaurant. Thomas Keller bought the property in 1994 and has since then focused on creating the best restaurant possible, by an enormous determination, discipline and a culinary talent most only can dream of.
The cuisine is heavily influenced by French cooking even if it is based upon American fare and most of the produce comes from the United States. Plenty of the herbs and vegetables are coming from Chef Keller’s garden just across the street so fresh and organic is an understatement.
Thomas Keller is an enormously talented and skilled chef, but today he seems to be more focused on his role as a restaurateur for his many restaurants since you will hardly find him in the kitchen of The French Laundry. The team in the kitchen is amongst the most skilled in the United States and the team handling the service in the dining room certainly is amongst the very best in the world. You can ask the staff almost anything about the cuisine and the beverages offered and you will have proper answer combined with the highest level of courtesy. General Manager Michael Minnillo makes sure that the quality is the best and Maitre d’ Lawrence “Larry” Nadeau has become one of the best there are in hospitality.
It is very difficult to make a reservation at The French Laundry if you do not know someone at the restaurant, especially if you just need a couple of seats. The 15 tables are fully booked immediately so make sure to spend some serious time on the phone and wish for some luck if you like to have a dinner at an American legend.
Image of Chef Patron: Courtesy Deborah Jones
Written by Andy