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The French Laundry Cookbook

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  8,268 ratings  ·  140 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 1st 1999 by Artisan
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4.29  · 
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 ·  8,268 ratings  ·  140 reviews

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Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
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
Jun 13, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Robert Wright
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: cooking
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
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kitchenaid
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.
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cookbooks, food
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.
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Carla Patterson
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-library
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.
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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! :)
Dec 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Sarah Copeland
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cooking
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.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Love reading about cooking; always fanciful pics;
Susan Edmonson
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a terrifically fun book to read. I will not be making any of the recipes as they are very complicated.
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking-food
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
Sep 09, 2008 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
Aug 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: cooking
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
Aug 26, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crafts-food
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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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
“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.” 21 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.” 10 likes
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