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The French Laundry 2001 - 2005


Rosie
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I noticed on the French Laundry web site that the new pastry chef is Francisco Migoya.

Also, Eric Ziebold is no longer listed under the bio's.

There will also be some new news on the Chef de Cuisine shortly. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised -- and a fine example of poetic justice, if I may add.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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I noticed on the French Laundry web site that the new pastry chef is Francisco Migoya.

Also, Eric Ziebold is no longer listed under the bio's.

There will also be some new news on the Chef de Cuisine shortly. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised -- and a fine example of poetic justice, if I may add.

You mean Chef/Writer Spencer got the gig? :biggrin:

OK Jason, Do to M.S. I'm not as sharp as I use to be.

How about one more little bitty hint !! :wacko:

Robert R

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Not so off-the-wall, Robert.

There have been rumblings for several weeks now, since not long after his departure from Mix, that Doug Psaltis would be going to work at French Laundry under Thomas Keller. It makes sense: Doug is arguably the most qualified available American chef for work in a perfectionist kitchen at this level, given his extensive training under Ducasse and Bouley and the raves he garnered at Mix, from those with taste and discernment at least.

Doug has not wanted to draw attention to himself, and asked that no rumors be published here until there was an official decision. In any event, there has now been an official decision and Doug is working at French Laundry. He wants to keep this low key and keep the spotlight off himself, so I hope we can all respect those wishes to the extent they seem reasonable. I hope I speak for all of Doug's fans in New York in wishing him the best of luck at French Laundry.

This is all the information I have at this time. Thanks.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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In any event, there has now been an official decision and Doug is working at French Laundry. He wants to keep this low key and keep the spotlight off himself, so I hope we can all respect those wishes to the extent they seem reasonable. I hope I speak for all of Doug's fans in New York in wishing him the best of luck at French Laundry.

This is all the information I have at this time. Thanks.

Can I just say (in a low key sort of way) that I find this very exciting? I don't think I could have imagined a more desireable 'pairing'. I am very much looking forward to hearing about (and, I hope, experiencing) the results of their collaboration. I hope I speak for all of Keller's fans in California in congratulating him on another excellent decision, and in welcoming Psaltis to the left coast.

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  • 3 weeks later...

To get this thread back on track...

I had the dinner of my life last Saturday at French Laundry. Needless to say, it will take me a little while to put together a full report for those interested, as it was quite an extensive evening of about 32 courses (2 different menus for myself and friend and most courses were off the menu), 13 wines, and 4 1/2 liver-damaging hours. :smile:

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I have been twice before and once only four weeks ago, but nothing compared to the dinner I had last Saturday night. I had the good fortune to secure reservations for a 6:30pm seating. Upon arriving with my best friend David, I immediately felt something was different, I seemed to actually feel an aura about the restaurant that I haven't experienced before. Little did I know what was to happen.

We were greeted by Larry Nadeau, the maitre d' who brought us glasses of champagne and sparkling wine and gave us a few minutes in the garden before promptly seating us at 6:30. Our captain, Michael, who was the dark haired gentleman that presided over Tony Bourdain's table in the now infamous Cook's Tour episode, brought menus and introduced himself. It was the usual 9-course chef's tasting, 9-course vegetarian menu and 5 course dinner menu After having been a few times before,ordering seemed to be difficult for us. We wanted the chef's tasting menu, but there were many items on the dinner menu that looked great as well. As we hemmed and hawed, Michael approached and offered something I had not been offered before - the chef's extended tasting menu.... He explained it would be two DIFFERENT menus of 15-18 courses of Chef Keller's choice for an additional $50. SOLD! Put the menus away and let's get started, however what about wine? How would we possibly choose the appropriate wines to span all of the courses? Michael explained that they will also do wine pairings with small pours with each course. No brainer again. However, I forgot to ask the cost of the wine pairings and spend small parts of the evening wondering about second jobs on the weekends. Turns out, even after pouring 71 D'Yquem, the tasting was $100. Considering, most half bottles on the menu are over $40 and the corkage is $75, I thought it was a deal for the 13 wines poured.

It was all very exciting. A meal with no menu - at the mercy of Chef Keller - a pretty good place to be. At the time, I wondered aloud if my feelings were comparable to what people feel that are going for their first sky dive, a calculated risk, that no doubt will thrill and amaze. I have never actually heard of the French Laundry offering an extended menu and wine pairings before, although I have read that Per Se was doing such things. Seems very interesting that such an offering wasn't made on prior trips... (sidenote - I completely forgot about the new Chef de Cuisine, Doug Pslatis, and to see if he had begun working in the kitchen yet.)

Now before I provide the run down of the menu, I must say that the service was the finest I have ever experienced. All of the staff was perfect - attentive but distanced, charming but professional, prompt but leisurely. Larry Nadeau checked on us after around course 12, Michael, our captain, actually encouraged us after hour 3 to take a stroll for a few minutes and stretch our legs. The bus boy, (not sure of the proper term for this position considering he was in a suit) not only explained what kind of coffee they were serving, but gave us a brief description of the company, where the beans came from and the type of roasting it was subjected to. They staff is just like that there...ask about the napkins and you may be subjected to a explanation as to the type of linen used and why Keller felt it was best.

I'm sure I'm going to miss some details so please forgive me. Here is what was served and the accompanying wines. Four of the courses were the same for both of us, only about six courses were on the menus and some of the wines stretched over two courses. I will be happy to provide further descriptions of individual dishes if anyone wants or you can PM me, but I figured the post would just be too much if I did that. However I must describe that the pasta course arrived along with the maitre d' and a locked box which contained a black truffle the size of a man's fist, which from about 2-3 tablespoons of shavings were grated over each pasta dish. As well, both the foie and beef were presented tableside prior to slicing. All very dramatic!

It was very difficult near the end of the meal to finish dishes. We were very full around the cheese course. At one point I even thought we had made a mistake.... Not a dish was disappointing, in fact my friend exclaimed three seperate times that the particular dish he was enjoying was the best thing he had ever eaten. There is no doubt, on that night FL was back and better than ever.

Canape

Cornet of Atlantic Salmon Cornet with Red Onion Creme Fraiche

Soup

Avocado Soup with Red Pepper "Bavarois"

Carrot Puree with Curry Mousse

Rene Geoffrey Brut Rose NV

Caviar

Oysters and Pearls

Cauliflower Pana Cotta with Iranian Oesetra Caviar

Mukune Root of Innocence Sake

Escargot

Jacobsen Farms Escargot with Perigord Truffle Mousse and Cepe Mushrooms

2002 Louis Michel Chablis

Egg

Pickled "Deviled" Egg with Perigord Truffle "Pop Tart"

White Truffle Custard with Ragout of Perigord Truffles

Salad

Hawaiian Hearts of Palm with Breakfast Radishes

Haricot Vert Salad with Roasted Pepper Tapenade

2002 Movia Ribolla

Pasta

Handcut Tagliatelle with Perigord Truffles

Sweet White Corn Angolotti with Corn Pudding

2001 HDV Chardonnay

Fish

Atlantic Cod with Summer Beans and Thyme Infused Oil

Rouget with Red Pepper Tapenade, Roasted Spring Onions

2003 Isabel & Claude Fonquerle Minervois L'Oustal Blanc White

Lobster

Peas & Carrots - Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Carrot Ginger Emulsion and Pea Shoots

Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster, Braised Fennel, Crystallized Fennel Chip and Sauce "Noilly Pratt"

Foie Gras

Whole Roasted Foie Gras with Jacobsen's Farm "George IV" Peaches, Toasted Green Almonds and Marinated Peaches

(presented whole at the table)

1971 Ch. D'Yquem

Meat #1

Ballotine of Four Story Hills Cuisse de Poularde with Melted Endive, Poached Dried Apricots and Apricot "Coulis"

Pan Roasted Liberty Valley Duck with Roasted Mission Figs, Sauce "Epice"

2000 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir

Meat #2

Snake River Ranch Calotte de Bouef with Sauce Bordelaise, Braised Hen-of-the-Woods and Cepes

(presented whole at the table)

2000 Modicum Cabernet Sauvignon

Cheese

Pecorino Toscano with Tomato Tarte Tatin and Basil Vinagrette

St. Marcellan with Roasted Pepper and Rye Cracker

1999 Kiralydvar Tokaj

Sorbet

Cassis Sorbet with Plum Soup

Passionfruit Sorbet with Roasted Maui Pineapple, Coconut Bavarois

Dessert #1

Coffee and Donuts

199 Forteta Dr La Luna Muscato Passito

Dessert #2

Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Mousse Timbale with Espresso Anglaise

Silverado Trail Strawberry Shortcake - Strawberry Terrine with Balsamic Glaze, Mascarpone Ice Cream, Creme Fraiche Cake

Chambers Rosewood Muscat NV

Mignardise

Peppercorn Pot de Creme

Vanilla Creme Brulle

Petit Fours

Equator Coffee

Now, if you have stuck with me through this lengthy post, was perhaps our favorite part. Upon settling the bill, our captain asked if we would like to "visit" the kitchen. Duh! We were taken back through the hallway and greeted warmly by Chef Keller at the pass, who we thanked profusely for the culinary night of our lives and wished each other a happy Fourth. He looked tired from his new bi-coastal duties and we suggested he get some rest, defiantly he said he couldn't stop and had to just keep moving. We are so thankful for that! What a night!

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Wow, that sounds brilliant! Thanks for posting. So are you saying you don't have to be a VIP or anything to have this option, or was Keller just feeling generous that night? We are going in August and would be amazed to having something as exquisite as that sounded.

Edited by Jerry_A (log)
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So, RDaily.... how DO you get so many reservations in such a short amount of time????

Do tell!

Well, Carolyn, I hate to give away my secrets...but, for you... :rolleyes:

Actually I have posted before, that the best time to try and make reservations is when the restaurant reopens after a hiatus. They have 2 monthes of reservations to fill up, as opposed to just a single night.

Persistence is the other secret, I hit redial for all 4 hours, and got through once on the day they returned from the closure. The next day I called for another 1 1/2 hours before getting the second. Both reservations were very important to me and I also lucked out by not having to work over those two days. I don't plan to return for a long while now. :laugh:

So are you saying you don't have to be a VIP or anything to have this option, or was Keller just feeling generous that night?

The restaurant's approach to this issue does seem inconsistent. I certainly don't think going 3 prior times makes you a regular and I'm absolutely not a VIP. I know they do track quite a bit of information about you in their computer system though (based on your phone #), so perhaps they were willing to offer it to us considering my other recent visits. However, most likely, they are offering it the way they have been at Per Se. Interestingly, it seems the dinner menu has been pared back. Both times I have been recently, there has only been two choices for fish and two choices for meat. In the past, there was much more to choose from...

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It was very difficult near the end of the meal to finish dishes. We were very full around the cheese course. At one point I even thought we had made a mistake....

I don't have a doubt that everything you had was exquisite - but isn't there something more than a little over the top about eating until you're totally stuffed and it's "difficult" to eat (being a small woman - I'm sure if I'd eaten as much as you ate - I would have gotten sick)? Reminds me of the movie - Supersize Me - or descriptions of ancient Roman banquets - or food eating contests (like the fellow who ate about 50 hotdogs in the recent 4th of July contest).

I can appreciate fully eating wonderful food in wonderful surroundings. I can't understand eating until you're not comfortable (or worse). Do you think this would have been a better meal if you had fewer courses and had left before eating became "difficult"? Or is gluttony part of the experience? I have a hard time reconciling gluttony with a fine dining experience. I don't see a difference between stuffing your face at the Golden Corral or the FL. Leaves me with visions of double and triple wide people - or bulemics. Perhaps someone can explain it to me - because I don't get it.

For what it's worth - I got the same impression watching the FL meal on the Food Network. Looked like fun at the beginning. At about the tenth course - I got kind of nauseated just thinking about all that food. And I've seen similar meals described at other US restaurants (a few in Europe too but not as much as in the US). So this is a general question - not specific to you - or the restaurant. Although it does seem to be more of a US than an international question. Robyn

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While I've very much enjoyed each of my visits to the French Laundry, I'd have to say that the worst part of the experience is waking up in a food coma the next morning.

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Has anyone been able to find these plates and dishes on the Grumps site? I've checked about five or six times since I first saw it and haven't found them.  :sad:

No, and I haven't spotted them at the Gump's store, either.

Just spoke with the 800-number available on the Gump's website. They don't have a clue but *suggest* it may only be offered through the Gump's store in San Francisco. As it is still morning here on the West, they aren't open yet to further the investigation...

Bergdorf Goodman in NYC is carrying the china. Just today I went looking for them. They don't have any on display, although the saleswoman I talked with pulled a dinner plate out from an order to show me. She also let me take a look at the brochure which shows all the pieces available. The dishes come in two styles - solid white and white on white to mimic the check on chef pants.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Has anyone been able to find these plates and dishes on the Grumps site? I've checked about five or six times since I first saw it and haven't found them.  :sad:

No, and I haven't spotted them at the Gump's store, either.

Just spoke with the 800-number available on the Gump's website. They don't have a clue but *suggest* it may only be offered through the Gump's store in San Francisco. As it is still morning here on the West, they aren't open yet to further the investigation...

Bergdorf Goodman in NYC is carrying the china. Just today I went looking for them. They don't have any on display, although the saleswoman I talked with pulled a dinner plate out from an order to show me. She also let me take a look at the brochure which shows all the pieces available. The dishes come in two styles - solid white and white on white to mimic the check on chef pants.

The cult of " French Laundry China" appearing soon at a store near you. You can't cook like Thomas but you can eat off the same plates. What's next a Tony Bourdain line of knives? Or better yet Signature Chefs clothing. :laugh::cool::blink:

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

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"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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I don't have a doubt that everything you had was exquisite - but isn't there something more than a little over the top about eating until you're totally stuffed and it's "difficult" to eat (being a small woman - I'm sure if I'd eaten as much as you ate - I would have gotten sick)?

You are right to some degree Robyn, it is over the top and gluttonous, but I can't think of too many other places I'd like to act on that sin. As I said, I had no idea what was coming out for each course, but it is all so damn good, that it is "difficult" to not eat it all. By the time the cheese course came around we were very full, but a 5 minute break walking around the garden and the very refreshing passionfruit sorbet, and I was fine - dessert was no problem.

Melkor, I agree as well, to needing a bit of detoxifying afterwards. This time the food didn't effect us as much as I think the wine did.

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Wow Robyn, you're full of happiness and joy.  Trio, FL, ... are there any restaurants you actually don't have a problem with?

Actually I'm usually happy - and even happier when dining at wonderful restaurants. I love excellent food and drink as much as anyone - but not when it interferes with my sleep during the night or my ability to function the next day. Note that I'm not a picky or puny eater - and I can hold a reasonable amount of liquor fairly well - so I'm not talking about subsisting on salads with no dressing and water with lemon slices.

I do realize that I have to adjust for size differences (my husband is bigger than I am and he can eat more than I can - and I'm sure there are younger 6'3" guys here who can eat both of us under the table). Still - there are almost always limits (although when I've watched professional football players eat - I've never been able to figure out what their limit is :smile: ). Robyn

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