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The French Laundry Cookbook

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2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley—“the most exciting place to eat in the United States” (The New York Times). The most transformative cookbook of the century celebrates this milestone by showcasing the genius of chef/proprietor Thomas Keller himself. Keller is a wizard, a purist, a man obsessed with getting i 2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley—“the most exciting place to eat in the United States” (The New York Times). The most transformative cookbook of the century celebrates this milestone by showcasing the genius of chef/proprietor Thomas Keller himself. Keller is a wizard, a purist, a man obsessed with getting it right. And this, his first cookbook, is every bit as satisfying as a French Laundry meal itself: a series of small, impeccable, highly refined, intensely focused courses. Most dazzling is how simple Keller's methods are: squeegeeing the moisture from the skin on fish so it sautées beautifully; poaching eggs in a deep pot of water for perfect shape; the initial steeping in the shell that makes cooking raw lobster out of the shell a cinch; using vinegar as a flavor enhancer; the repeated washing of bones for stock for the cleanest, clearest tastes. From innovative soup techniques, to the proper way to cook green vegetables, to secrets of great fish cookery, to the creation of breathtaking desserts; from beurre monté to foie gras au torchon, to a wild and thoroughly unexpected take on coffee and doughnuts, The French Laundry Cookbook captures, through recipes, essays, profiles, and extraordinary photography, one of America's great restaurants, its great chef, and the food that makes both unique. One hundred and fifty superlative recipes are exact recipes from the French Laundry kitchen—no shortcuts have been taken, no critical steps ignored, all have been thoroughly tested in home kitchens. If you can't get to the French Laundry, you can now re-create at home the very experience Wine Spectator described as “as close to dining perfection as it gets.”  


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2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley—“the most exciting place to eat in the United States” (The New York Times). The most transformative cookbook of the century celebrates this milestone by showcasing the genius of chef/proprietor Thomas Keller himself. Keller is a wizard, a purist, a man obsessed with getting i 2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley—“the most exciting place to eat in the United States” (The New York Times). The most transformative cookbook of the century celebrates this milestone by showcasing the genius of chef/proprietor Thomas Keller himself. Keller is a wizard, a purist, a man obsessed with getting it right. And this, his first cookbook, is every bit as satisfying as a French Laundry meal itself: a series of small, impeccable, highly refined, intensely focused courses. Most dazzling is how simple Keller's methods are: squeegeeing the moisture from the skin on fish so it sautées beautifully; poaching eggs in a deep pot of water for perfect shape; the initial steeping in the shell that makes cooking raw lobster out of the shell a cinch; using vinegar as a flavor enhancer; the repeated washing of bones for stock for the cleanest, clearest tastes. From innovative soup techniques, to the proper way to cook green vegetables, to secrets of great fish cookery, to the creation of breathtaking desserts; from beurre monté to foie gras au torchon, to a wild and thoroughly unexpected take on coffee and doughnuts, The French Laundry Cookbook captures, through recipes, essays, profiles, and extraordinary photography, one of America's great restaurants, its great chef, and the food that makes both unique. One hundred and fifty superlative recipes are exact recipes from the French Laundry kitchen—no shortcuts have been taken, no critical steps ignored, all have been thoroughly tested in home kitchens. If you can't get to the French Laundry, you can now re-create at home the very experience Wine Spectator described as “as close to dining perfection as it gets.”  

30 review for The French Laundry Cookbook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I've gone over this book a million times.I met Chef Keller at his restaurant,he gave me a tour of his kitchen.There are a lot of things in here that just blow your mind,but inspire you to think of food in a different way,There is also a lot of autobiographical information in here.Keller doesn't have the typical background of most big name chefs,working for all the big names in Paris,New York or San Francisco.He is self taught,which makes his food so different. He talks about how he decided to le I've gone over this book a million times.I met Chef Keller at his restaurant,he gave me a tour of his kitchen.There are a lot of things in here that just blow your mind,but inspire you to think of food in a different way,There is also a lot of autobiographical information in here.Keller doesn't have the typical background of most big name chefs,working for all the big names in Paris,New York or San Francisco.He is self taught,which makes his food so different. He talks about how he decided to learn how to kill and butcher rabbits.I really admire his reasoning and graphic description of this.These days we don't see how animals die and suffer through the process.Everything is shrink wrapped.I agree with him. If you want to eat meat,go hunt,butcher an animal,watch it's eyes close,feel warm blood on your arm.You'll have a greater love of that animal and a greater love of your meal.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    The French Laundry is probably the only place I would work for free. Had to put that in there in case Thomas Keller reads my Goodreads reviews. A truly inspirational book by a brilliant chef that isn't a douche bag. Few cookbooks fill me with jealousy like this one because I didn't think of the recipes. If you are serious about food, get this book. If you are kind of new to cooking, or are just "okay" at it, making some stuff in this book will really challenge you and help push you to the next l The French Laundry is probably the only place I would work for free. Had to put that in there in case Thomas Keller reads my Goodreads reviews. A truly inspirational book by a brilliant chef that isn't a douche bag. Few cookbooks fill me with jealousy like this one because I didn't think of the recipes. If you are serious about food, get this book. If you are kind of new to cooking, or are just "okay" at it, making some stuff in this book will really challenge you and help push you to the next level. Perhaps.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    My 3-star review might be a little bit unfair. The French Laundry Cookbook is a 5-star version of what it is. But what it is, is not something I find useful. This is more than just a cookbook, which is important because most home cooks are never going to make many/any of the recipes contained inside. Two examples: 1) a cheese dish with 16 ingredients and instructions to begin one component 5 days in advance. 2) an entree with 42 ingredients, 6 of which require cross-reference to their own separa My 3-star review might be a little bit unfair. The French Laundry Cookbook is a 5-star version of what it is. But what it is, is not something I find useful. This is more than just a cookbook, which is important because most home cooks are never going to make many/any of the recipes contained inside. Two examples: 1) a cheese dish with 16 ingredients and instructions to begin one component 5 days in advance. 2) an entree with 42 ingredients, 6 of which require cross-reference to their own separate recipes. I'm not kidding. The French Laundry is a beautiful restaurant, Thomas Keller is an amazing chef, and together they are something unbelievable. This cookbook probably did more to show home cooks just how unattainable the French Laundry experience is than it did anything else. I've long been proud that the restaurant exists here in my beloved California, and only a bit of a drive away at that. There are a few things that I jotted down notes for/made a copy of a page because they're interesting and actually practical in a standard kitchen, but very few. I quite enjoyed the non-recipe sections, short as they were, as a window into Keller and the restaurant (I read an article online a few years ago in which the journalist was allowed to spend a day behind-the-scenes at the French Laundry. It was fascinating in the same way the short non-recipe sections of this cookbook are, but that article was longer than all of those sections of this book put together). My favourite bit was probably Keller's story about the rabbits, because it's a lesson I wish more chefs (more people) would learn. Beautiful photography. In the end, as I say, it's a fantastic version of what it is. But I am grateful to have gotten it from the library, because I have no need of what it is, and would never open it a second time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robert Wright

    Yes, this book has many mouthwatering recipes, but it is far from a "cookbook." It is a grand celebration of haute cuisine. The chef's protests to the contrary, it will take more than passion to accomplish an approximation of the recipes outlined in this book. What you need is here if you dare to try. But you'll also need a large bank account for ingredients and equipment, access to them, and time on your hands. This is a chef for whom only the finest will do, and woe betide the home cook, no mat Yes, this book has many mouthwatering recipes, but it is far from a "cookbook." It is a grand celebration of haute cuisine. The chef's protests to the contrary, it will take more than passion to accomplish an approximation of the recipes outlined in this book. What you need is here if you dare to try. But you'll also need a large bank account for ingredients and equipment, access to them, and time on your hands. This is a chef for whom only the finest will do, and woe betide the home cook, no matter how passionate, who can't afford the finest cookware or a generous supply of lobster, pate, and truffles. I'm not saying you shouldn't have a passion for fine ingredients. Just that other chefs have a better feel for bringing that passion into a relatable paradigm for typical home cooks. Encourage people to use the finest, freshest ingredients from their farmer's markets or other local sources, by all means. This is a large, coffee table style book, more intended for appreciation than execution of the recipes. And even in that appreciative aim, I think it falls flat due to a layout that often has pictures of the described food several pages away or not at all. A fine bit of food porn. But it doesn't make me want to cook. It makes me want to eat at the French Laundry.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    A visual, oral orgasm. And, the book that, through a single turn of the page, sparked my love affair with the mandoline slicer. No cookbook has made labored cooking look so effortless, presentation so luxurious and the history of sourcing materials so intriguing. This books tells the stories of the FL's high quality suppliers, the crafting of recipes and leaves you with the idea that yes - you can bring that $500 dinner in Yontville, down the street from Ad Hoc and Bouchon, home to you.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Food porn at its best. While I most often love what has historically been "poor people food" (think pot roast, chicken pot pie, dishes cooked slowly and for a long, long time...Southern American and French provincial cuisines), I am also totally in love with food as art. In French Laundry, Keller documents the art that is created at his restaurant every day. Many of the recipes are not simple (a total of 28 pages dedicated to lobster mac and cheese and all the sub-recipes necessary), but if are Food porn at its best. While I most often love what has historically been "poor people food" (think pot roast, chicken pot pie, dishes cooked slowly and for a long, long time...Southern American and French provincial cuisines), I am also totally in love with food as art. In French Laundry, Keller documents the art that is created at his restaurant every day. Many of the recipes are not simple (a total of 28 pages dedicated to lobster mac and cheese and all the sub-recipes necessary), but if are dedicated to food, or simply want to page through and drool on yourself, this is the book for you.

  7. 4 out of 5

    titi

    French Laundry, bar none, is the best restaurant in U.S of A. and this book substantiates that. Executing the recipes with success is what must mountain climbers feel after conquering Mr. Everest, or if you were a Catholic, like my mom, kissing the Pope's ring, or if you were my dad, sleeping with Sophia Loren. It is pure heaven. And the photography is delicious.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    Too spectacular to actually cook from, but more accessible than Adria's book. Also contains an icky story about killing rabbits that could have come from Possum Living. French chefs, you gross me out with your desire for veal, offal and bunnies.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ross

    Beautiful book. Not a single thing in it that I would ever attempt to make on my own. Best to have saved the money and put it towards an appetizer at the restaurant itself one day. Because really, my kitchen (and yours) is not the French Laundry, so the result is bound to be a disappointment.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carla Patterson

    I learned to cook from my mother and her mother and I’m lucky that they, like Thomas Keller, promoted cooking as a delight in and of itself. Naturally, one cooks to eat, but to eat well, the cook needs to understand how to protect and enhance the flavor of the ingredients s/he is using. Since I have food allergies and other health restrictions, I like to have the very best versions of the foods I can eat. I also like to give people I love food experiences they will love in spite of any changes I I learned to cook from my mother and her mother and I’m lucky that they, like Thomas Keller, promoted cooking as a delight in and of itself. Naturally, one cooks to eat, but to eat well, the cook needs to understand how to protect and enhance the flavor of the ingredients s/he is using. Since I have food allergies and other health restrictions, I like to have the very best versions of the foods I can eat. I also like to give people I love food experiences they will love in spite of any changes I have made to recipes. I realized many years ago that using the freshest and least processed ingredients was key and that the American penchant for overlooking was something I’d rather avoid. But, what about the European dishes I learned to love as a child on the East Coast of the U.S.? In this book, Keller offers modern versions of classic dishes which are far from overcooked, even if they take time to make. He tells us how and why to do things in ways which will lead to immense satisfaction for both the cook and the diner. The photographs of dishes are really beautiful as well as informative and the index of specialty foods and tools, and where to find them, is much appreciated.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rafal

    As much a cookbook as a manifesto and cornerstone of an entire movement in food and cooking. I think one of the best ways to talk about this book is that it is essentially the antithesis of 30 minute meals. Now I am a fan of Rachel Ray and her work so do not take this as a negative. Keller takes an almost Buddhist approach to cooking. From mindfulness of your ingredients (whether they be ideally sourced or not) to an unabashed focus while cooking, Keller advocates enjoying the process rather than As much a cookbook as a manifesto and cornerstone of an entire movement in food and cooking. I think one of the best ways to talk about this book is that it is essentially the antithesis of 30 minute meals. Now I am a fan of Rachel Ray and her work so do not take this as a negative. Keller takes an almost Buddhist approach to cooking. From mindfulness of your ingredients (whether they be ideally sourced or not) to an unabashed focus while cooking, Keller advocates enjoying the process rather than seeing it as tedium. Very much a sense of "If you can't get out of it, get into it." As for the recipes, they actually range from the approachable to the challenging. I do not doubt anyone with basic cooking skills cannot make quite a few of the things here. Many recipes like the gazpacho, gougeres, and lemon tart are fairly simple in their execution while being refined to a level of clarity. Think consomme vs regular soup. This is not to say there aren't quite a few challenges. Many main dishes have a myriad of ingredients and preparations, which, assuming you have taken the "enjoy the process" mantra seriously, will give you a full day of fun. I have made several dishes from this book and all are delicious. A few are even transcendent. Whenever people ask me about this book I always encourage them to read it. even if you skip reading the recipes, a lot of Keller's asides will open your eyes to food issues you may have been aware of. If people are intimidated by the book, I always always ALWAYS encourage them to try a few recipes from it. There are a ton of simpler recipes here that you can make even if you are not ready for the challenges of Keller's full menus.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ginny

    This is intense cooking. Keller is a maniac with the details and the complicated recipes. I would love to dine in one of his restaurants. But, the recipes are not for the faint of heart. I've done about 5 recipes - each was complicated, time consuming, and upped my knowledge of cooking. For the amount of work I would have wished each recipe was a knockout. Most were great (3) one was good, one was never do again. Not sure it was worth the immense effort.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Not the sort of book you cook from, but absolutely the sort of book to inspire and to appreciate the artistry of a true chef.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    I like this cookbook, a lot. However, it is not practical for me to make a good majority of these foods. Eating them and loving them is another matter! :)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Helena

    This book may not be for the faint of heart, but for someone, such as myself, who loves pushing themselves forward in the kitchen... it's a must-have. For several years now I'd wanted to become a chef, but because of health concerns I had to put that dream on the back-burner and become a multimedia artist instead. Because of that, I find myself cooking out of this book, finding myself cooking these meals, and other meals that have really pushed the boundaries of self at home. This is one of thos This book may not be for the faint of heart, but for someone, such as myself, who loves pushing themselves forward in the kitchen... it's a must-have. For several years now I'd wanted to become a chef, but because of health concerns I had to put that dream on the back-burner and become a multimedia artist instead. Because of that, I find myself cooking out of this book, finding myself cooking these meals, and other meals that have really pushed the boundaries of self at home. This is one of those cookbooks that have me writing in the margins, adding to recipes to make them my own. I love how in-depth each section is, teaching about every part of cooking, rather than just the recipes themselves. How well-rounded this cookbook is has not only taught me more about cooking, but it's also given me something I never thought I'd have: a way to enjoy my dream of cooking without having to be a chef. The recipes, the heart, the soul, and the writing has given me enough of my dream for me to feel better about myself so I can continue as a multimedia artist. It's one book that I'm most thankful for.

  16. 4 out of 5

    K

    Take my review with a grain of salt. I'm not sure I'm even qualified to rate this book. The food looks delectable but, honestly, I'd never fuss with these complex recipes. I cook at home every day. That's a part of my core. This book feels like it was written for aspiring chefs. I appreciate the autobiographical component and always enjoy hearing about someone else's life. Also, and I confess to being vegetarianish, veal is cruel and passe. I don't care how traditional it is. Nope. I don't want Take my review with a grain of salt. I'm not sure I'm even qualified to rate this book. The food looks delectable but, honestly, I'd never fuss with these complex recipes. I cook at home every day. That's a part of my core. This book feels like it was written for aspiring chefs. I appreciate the autobiographical component and always enjoy hearing about someone else's life. Also, and I confess to being vegetarianish, veal is cruel and passe. I don't care how traditional it is. Nope. I don't want to take anything away from Mr. Keller. I just eat more humble meals these days. Still glad I checked it out. It's worthy of a read even if you're not using it as a cookbook.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    not just a cookbook I spent a lot of time reading this book and reading thru each recipe and walking through the techniques. i thoroughly enjoyed it. It makes me a better cook. just the proper cooking of green vegetables alone is worth it. so much great technique detail that you will surely use even in everyday cooking. You will think differently about what you are cooking and how to extract the most and best flavor from it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kiera

    Can’t say I have the patience to make many (or any) of these recipes, but I loved reading all of the background info about the purveyors and their products. I also love reading cookbooks that aren’t just cookbooks, but actually stories about the food, the ingredients, and the thought process behind a recipe.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Copeland

    If you love challenges and have a lot of time, this is the place to go for perfection. I haven't used it in years--I cooked from this in my pre-kids days, but I will never give this book up regardless.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cristy

    This coffee table sized tome covers recipes made in the kitchens of the famous French Laundry. These are not in any way for the average home cook. This is not beginner stuff, it is advanced by any metric. Everything is done the long way around exactly as Mr. Keller prefers it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Pictures of Recipes? Yes. Commentary on Recipes? Yes. Nutrition Facts? No Recipe style? Very, very fancy. Any keepers? No. I wouldn't attempt any of this at home, except for maybe the potato gnocchi. Too reliant on gelatin, caviar and truffles.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dusica

    Love reading about cooking; always fanciful pics;

  23. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This was a terrifically fun book to read. I will not be making any of the recipes as they are very complicated.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan Edmonson

    Magnificent!!!!!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    As I'm a chef in training, my boss let me borrow his worn out, marked up, beaten down copy of The French Laundry Cookbook to further my knowledge in the kitchen. It's his favorite book. The first thing that stood out to me, aside from the beautiful photos, were Thomas Kellers words. This isn't just a cookbook or a sort of biography, this is a way of life. Right of the bat, I can take one of his quotes on cooking and use the advice given for my real life, everyday problems. He wrote, "I can tell As I'm a chef in training, my boss let me borrow his worn out, marked up, beaten down copy of The French Laundry Cookbook to further my knowledge in the kitchen. It's his favorite book. The first thing that stood out to me, aside from the beautiful photos, were Thomas Kellers words. This isn't just a cookbook or a sort of biography, this is a way of life. Right of the bat, I can take one of his quotes on cooking and use the advice given for my real life, everyday problems. He wrote, "I can tell you the mechanics -- how to make a custard, for instance. But you won't have a perfect one if you merely follow my instructions. If you don't feel it, it's not a perfect custard, no matter how well you've executed the mechanics. On the other hand, if it's not literally a perfect custard, but you have maintained a great feeling for it, then you have created a recipe perfectly because there was that passion behind what you did." The recipes may not be what you would easily make at home, but the advice and techniques given are perfect for someone interested in cooking. Thomas Keller's passion throughout the book is inspiring. I loved that he added small stories of the people who raise the lamb for the restaurant, or the mushroom picker. Small things that add life to the book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I'm no chef fan girl. With one exception: Thomas Keller. Eating at The French Laundry is on my bucket list, and this book was the perfect taste of what I hope my future one day holds. This cookbook is part cookbook part education lesson. Keller, Ruhlman, and others write beautiful descriptions about how certain foods are collected and follow it with gorgeous descriptions of each recipe. The recipes are incredibly detailed so that even as a home cook, you can feel comfortable attempting one or tw I'm no chef fan girl. With one exception: Thomas Keller. Eating at The French Laundry is on my bucket list, and this book was the perfect taste of what I hope my future one day holds. This cookbook is part cookbook part education lesson. Keller, Ruhlman, and others write beautiful descriptions about how certain foods are collected and follow it with gorgeous descriptions of each recipe. The recipes are incredibly detailed so that even as a home cook, you can feel comfortable attempting one or two of them {if you can find the ingredients locally that is}. The photography is as gorgeous as the written word, and it alone is worth picking up the book. I took this out from the library, but after reading just a few pages I knew I would be purchasing it. Keller is a food genius, and I am fairly certain he will be known as the greatest chef of our generation.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    OK-This is the most sophisticated cookbook I have ever read. If you know me at all, you probably know that I am not timid about trying something new or labor-intensive. However, these recipes had me sweating and I was just sitting in a chair! I first learned about this book in September. (Actually someone on this site recommended it.) I have waited since then to buy it as a Christmas gift for myself. So, tomorrow I am going to venture out and try the shrimp with avocado salsa-undoubtedly the sim OK-This is the most sophisticated cookbook I have ever read. If you know me at all, you probably know that I am not timid about trying something new or labor-intensive. However, these recipes had me sweating and I was just sitting in a chair! I first learned about this book in September. (Actually someone on this site recommended it.) I have waited since then to buy it as a Christmas gift for myself. So, tomorrow I am going to venture out and try the shrimp with avocado salsa-undoubtedly the simplest receipe in this book! (Not quite ready for foie gras yet!) This guys is my cooking soul mate. More than the recipes, the philosophy of Keller's cooking is SO RIGHT ON! Even if you don't buy this book, check it out at the library. It is a beauty!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    Wow - what a journey. I'll confess I focused on the stor(ies) and not so much on the individual recipes. But I could see from the stories and those few that I did read through that Chef Keller is a man obsessed with detail - and in this case it's not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps a bad comparison - but I'd liken him to George Surat (the pointilist painter). In Chef Kellers world the portions are small, but each bite is a revelation to be savored -- in which case just a few bites are enough and Wow - what a journey. I'll confess I focused on the stor(ies) and not so much on the individual recipes. But I could see from the stories and those few that I did read through that Chef Keller is a man obsessed with detail - and in this case it's not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps a bad comparison - but I'd liken him to George Surat (the pointilist painter). In Chef Kellers world the portions are small, but each bite is a revelation to be savored -- in which case just a few bites are enough and then you move on to the next dish, and a new taste explosion. I applaud his patience and devotion to his art.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    A great cook book to appreciate what it takes to prepare a high level of cuisine. Complicated preparations, but Keller never apologizes for this and even states it up front: this is not a cookbook for shortcuts and home cooks in a hurry. Enough detail is in the recipes for anyone to tackle the dishes, but recommended for people who have the basics down. Some AMAZING tips that I haven't read elsewhere. Also the ability to make parts of the recipes even if you're not adventurous enough to go all t A great cook book to appreciate what it takes to prepare a high level of cuisine. Complicated preparations, but Keller never apologizes for this and even states it up front: this is not a cookbook for shortcuts and home cooks in a hurry. Enough detail is in the recipes for anyone to tackle the dishes, but recommended for people who have the basics down. Some AMAZING tips that I haven't read elsewhere. Also the ability to make parts of the recipes even if you're not adventurous enough to go all the way. Good for those who want to take their own cooking to the next level or learn simple ways to make drastic improvements in food preparations.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    I'm wavering between 3.5/4 stars so I'll go generous. The upside is that the pictures are divine and these dishes look absolutely fabulous. I feel hungry and excited just by browsing the pages. It's a big, hefty book that is not afraid to be awe-inspiring. The downside is that most of the recipes here require a lot of work, equipment and ingredients to pull off. But I still give many points for sheer inspiration.

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