French Laundry, Per Se: The Art of Finesse
“Every elegant page projects Keller’s high standard of ‘perfect culinary execution’. . . . This superb work is as much philosophical treatise as gorgeous cookbook.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Bound by a common philosophy, linked by live video, staffed by a cadre of inventive and skilled chefs, the kitchens of Thomas Keller’s celebrated restaurants—The French Laundry in Yountville, California, and per se, in New York City—are in a relationship unique in the world of fine dining. Ideas bounce back and forth in a dance of creativity, knowledge, innovation, and excellence. It’s a relationship that’s the very embodiment of collaboration, and of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. And all of it is captured in The French Laundry, Per Se, with meticulously detailed recipes for 70 beloved dishes, including Smoked Sturgeon Rillettes on an Everything Bagel, “The Whole Bird,” Tomato Consommé, Celery Root Pastrami, Steak and Potatoes, Peaches ’n’ Cream.
Just reading these recipes is a master class in the state of the art of cooking today. We learn to use a dehydrator to intensify the flavor and texture of fruits and vegetables. To make the crunchiest coating with a cornstarch–egg white paste and potato flakes. To limit waste in the kitchen by fermenting vegetable trimmings for sauces with an unexpected depth of flavor. And that essential Keller trait, to take a classic and reinvent it: like the French onion soup, with a mushroom essence stock and garnish of braised beef cheeks and Comté mousse, or a classic crème brûlée reimagined as a rich, creamy ice cream with a crispy sugar tuile to mimic the caramelized coating.
Throughout, there are 40 recipes for the basics to elevate our home cooking. Some are old standbys, like the best versions of beurre manié and béchamel, others more unusual, including a ramen broth (aka the Super Stock) and a Blue-Ribbon Pickle.
Thomas Keller is the author of The French Laundry Cookbook, Bouchon, Under Pressure, Ad Hoc at Home, and Bouchon Bakery. He is the first and only American chef to have two Michelin Guide three-star-rated restaurants, The French Laundry and per se, both of which continue to rank among the best restaurants in America and the world. In 2011 he was designated a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, the first American male chef to be so honored. In 2017, as part of the Ment’or Foundation—established with chefs Jérôme Bocuse and Daniel Boulud—Keller led Team USA to win gold at the Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France, for the first time ever.