The French Laundry Cookbook
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The French Laundry Cookbook

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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  5,251 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Thomas Keller, chef/proprieter of the French Laundry in the Napa Valley—"the most exciting place to eat in the United States," wrote Ruth Reichl in The New York Times—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...more
336 pages
Published November 1st 1999 by Artisan
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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...more
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...more
Tony Q.
Sep 05, 2007 Tony Q. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: advanced cooks
As my cousin calls it, this beautiful book is "Food Porn"
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...more
Rafal Cebula
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...more
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.
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.
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.
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! :)
Lauren
Oct 20, 2011 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lauren by: My boss
Shelves: cookbooks
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...more
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 a chef for whom only the finest will do, and woe betide the home cook, no matter...more
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...more
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...more
Becky
Jan 03, 2009 Becky added it
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...more
John Caron
A celebration of a master chef's virtuosity worthy of five stars. You can admire his skill and innovation but these are not recipes to be tried at home, hence the four stars.
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...more
julie
an inspiring read. i got it from the library after making a version of the truffle egg custards for new year's. i felt a bit intimidated by it, but it's so beautifully done and full of love for food that you can really only be inspired.
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...more
Bryan
This book is one of the best things to ever happen to me.
Sarah Goebel
i don't have any illusions that i would actually be able to create any of these dishes, i just enjoyed the beautiful illustrations (food porn). the staff meal chef did contribute a lasagna recipie that i'll give a go though. a great coffee table book or library check-out.

update: i planned on making the lasagna for company and started an hour before their arrival. upon reading the directions i found that the process would take greater than five hours. for lasagna. even with pre-made pasta. really...more
Laurel Raines
It is food porn
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.
thelifepursuit
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.
Joanne
I know that if I have a recipe that has a recipe for the ingredients in the first recipe that I am in for a recipe for disaster. Beautiful pictures and fabulous food that I will likley never eat. I do plan on making the apple kuchen recipe at the end - all the ingredients are available at my local supermarket, unlike most of the others in the book.
Brianne
BEAUTIFUL and even more inspiring after reading either the Soul of a Chef or the Making of a Chef (can't remember which)... but my point is that one of them goes into the whole story behind The French Laundry and its creator/chef, Thomas Keller and it makes you want to drop everything and fly out there to spend your entire life savings on a single meal
Dan
An interesting insight into the history and thought processes of this famed chef. The recipes are, not surprisingly, quite complicated for the most part, though he makes the point at the beginning that that's the case and recommends picking and choosing components - fine for experienced cooks, probably a bit overwhelming for many less experienced.
Cyndi J
WOW. This is a beautiful book. I read about Thomas Keller in Ruhlman's books. While I can't replicate most recipes, due to living in the middle of nowhere, I hope to someday try these beautiful masterpieces. Keller's respect for food is top notch, and makes me realize how horrible American restaurants really are.
Marjorie Elwood
I loved reading this, even though I doubt I would make anything from it. But Keller's philosophy of cooking - that it should be done with care and passion - and the beauty and elegance of the recipes lured me in, to the point where I'm considering purchasing the book. Or perhaps just heading to The French Laundry itself.
Frank Mcgeough
beautiful pictures and interesting stories of the providers used by the restaurant and how important every detail is in providing an awesome dining experience. Not a lot of recipes that I thought - "I'll do that myself". However, there were some tips and techniques on smaller things like sauces that I thought were helpful.
Steve
Jul 26, 2007 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: foodies
Man, this is my all time favorite coffee table book. The most beautiful and enticing food. Ok, it loses a star because the dishes are too impractical to try at home, but holy crap, Thomas Keller's dishes practically jump off the pages at you because their flavor concepts and their pictures are simply incredible.
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Thomas Keller is an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation, notably the Best California Chef in 1996, and the Best Chef in America in 1997. The restaurant is a perennial winner in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants...more
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“Cooking is not about convenience and it's not about shortcuts. Our hunger for the twenty-minute gourmet meal, for one-pot ease and prewashed, precut ingredients has severed our lifeline to the satisfactions of cooking. Take your time. Take a long time. Move slowly and deliberately and with great attention.” 13 likes
“When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy, that is what cooking is all about.” 7 likes
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