The Louvre, a white linen tablecloth being gently unfurled and graceful choreography are among the inspirations for Chef Thomas Keller’s kitchen redesign for the French Laundry.
According to FL reps, this is the first major overhaul of the landmark restaurant in 20 years. International design firm, Snøhetta, California-based firms Envelope A+D and Tim Harrison of Harrison, Koellner, LLC will create a new and expanded kitchen and courtyard, an auxiliary building to house a wine cellar and support offices, and a new arrival experience to enhance the approach to the iconic blue door.
“The French Laundry is being redesigned to be a backdrop worthy of the restaurant’s history,” Thomas Keller said. “With the Louvre Pyramid as my inspiration, we wanted to find a way to juxtapose the historic and the modern while maintaining the high quality cuisine and service our guests have come to expect from The French Laundry. The new design will be an innovative and functioning space that will allow us to continue to evolve as a restaurant and develop new standards.”
FL reps also say that in addition to expanding the kitchen’s size by 25 percent, the renovation will make for more efficient use of space, creating one contiguous room for the entire culinary team with a visual connection from station to station. With walls, flooring and work stations all fashioned out of Dekton, an ultra-compact surface, the new kitchen will feature a white-on-white palette—a nod to the sense of promise and potential of a fresh start. The kitchen equipment will feature two unique Moltini suites by Electrolux and commercial ranges by Hestan Commercial. The ground-up construction of a new Kitchen Annex will house The French Laundry’s support functions including the prep kitchen, butchery, produce breakdown, and management offices. It is also home to The French Laundry’s regarded wine collection, with the storage capacity to hold up to 14,000 bottles.
Commence sighs of jealousy.
Chef Thomas Keller’s culinary team, meanwhile, have moved into a temporary kitchen space at the restaurant, and have been serving diners since April 7 at the historic location, says an FL spokesperson. “During construction, Envelope A+D conceived of using shipping containers as modular units for a temporary kitchen in the restaurant’s former courtyard, allowing for service to resume after the restaurant’s closure in January. Tim Harrison, Chef Keller’s kitchen designer-of-record for the past 20 years, designed and adapted the temporary space as a recreation of the former French Laundry kitchen, complete with its five stars mounted hood.:
The restaurant is offering dinner seven days a week beginning at 5:30 p.m. and lunch on Saturday and Sunday between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The project is slated for completion in late 2015.