Congrats, Per Se! Named One Of The Best Restaurants In The World – The French Laundry, Too! Plus Ad Hoc Fried Chicken!

This is a celebration of the world’s best food, created by the world’s best Chefs!

This week, S. Pellegrino released their fairly well-regarded annual list of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” and for the third year in a row, René Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant Noma took the number one spot. Two new restaurants made the top ten: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London and Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s Eleven Madison Park in New York, which took spots nine and ten respectively.

Per Se is #6!

The highest ranking US restaurant, however, was Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York, which ranked as the #6 best restaurant in the world! CONGRATULATIONS to the entire team at Per Se for this achievement!

It is well-deserved, as Alex and I had an amazing meal there just last week…here is our menu:

It’s also a perfect opportunity to take you INSIDE the restaurant, thanks to a great book about the opening of the restaurant back in 2004 – PLUS I’ve got a look at The French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s Cookbooks AND his legendary Ad Hoc Fried Chicken!

Thomas Keller was “The S.Pellegrino Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2012” – perfect timing with the #6 ranking for Per Se, and a top 50 for “The French Laundry”, which has been voted the best in the world twice before…

First, some background: two of the greatest restaurants in the world are The French Laundry and Per Se – both from Chef Thomas Keller. Keller also has Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc restaurants as well, which we will cover here.

Also, special congrats to my friend Ross, who is one of the Per Se Chefs – phenomenal achievement, Ross! I also want to shout out to Katie, who is one of the Chefs at the terrific Bouchon in Beverly Hills – they are both TERRIFIC Chefs who are key to Keller’s success – something he acknowledges as well – it is a TEAM EFFORT. So let’s get started!

The French Laundry in Yountville, California

The French Laundry is a French restaurant located in Yountville, California, in the Napa Valley. The restaurant building dates from 1900, and is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Yes, when you dine at the Laundry, you receive a clothes pin to take home…

The French Laundry is annually chosen on every list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World (having been named “Best Restaurant in the World” in 2003 and 2004). It was also called “the best restaurant in the world, period” by Anthony Bourdain.

Oysters & Pearls

Among the iconic dishes served are Oysters & Pearls, a silky custard topped by two tiny poached oysters and a dollop of caviar, oysters & pearls.

Poached Lobster Mitts!

Or check out the poached lobster mitts above – and below – a signature dish prepared two different ways…two examples of the care they bring to everything they prepare, and confirms that the menu changes DAILY.

Honoring Per Se!

Per Se was the highest rated US restaurant this year, and overall the 6th best in the world – congrats to the entire team – and especially to the Chefs, who make amazing, inventive food that changes daily!

Per Se is located on the 4th floor of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, across from the southwest entrance to Central Park. The floor-to-ceiling windows give everybody a beautiful view of the city – as you sit down for a 14-course meal.

The service is exemplary, and the chefs in the kitchen are at the top of their game – every single aspect of the experience is flawless – and delicious.

Have you wondered how it all came together? Well, this book tells you all about it.

Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch – published in 2008

Here is how amazon describes it: While Phoebe Damrosch was waiting for life to happen, she supported herself by working as a waitress. Before long she was the only female captain at the four-star New York City restaurant Per Se during its first year.

“Service Included” is the story of her obsession with food, and her amusing, eye-opening experiences in the fascinating, frenetic, highly competitive world of fine dining.

“Service Included” is a terrific inside look at the restaurant’s launch, from a person who had the ability to be a “fly on the wall” and document the process…I enjoyed this book a lot – but of course, it is just the tip of the Keller literary iceberg:

The French Laundry Cookbook
by Thomas Keller with Susie Heller and Michael Ruhlman

This is the gold standard of cookbooks – the most beautiful food in the world explained with terrific insight and perspective…Here are Keller and Ruhlman together…

From Publishers Weekly – “Cooking is not about convenience, and it’s not about shortcuts. Take your time. Move slowly and deliberately, and with great attention,” writes Keller, the owner of the French Laundry in Napa Valley who was named 1997’s best chef in America by the James Beard Foundation. At a decidedly unhurried pace, Keller delivers 150 recipes that reflect the perfectionism that catapulted him to national acclaim. With few exceptions (e.g., Gazpacho, Eric’s Staff Lasagne), recipes are haute, labor-intensive preparations: Lobster Consomm? en Gel?e, Warm Fruitwood-Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi and Balsamic Glaze, or Braised Stuffed Pig’s Head. Tongue-in-cheek recipe names like “Macaroni and Cheese” (aka Butter-Poached Maine Lobster with Creamy Lobster Broth and Mascarpone-Enriched Orzo) and “Banana Split” (actually, Poached Banana Ice Cream with White Chocolate-Banana Crepes and Chocolate Sauce) belie the complexity of the dishes. Throughout, Keller conveys his vision as a culinary artist in spare, meticulous prose, emphasizing form over expedience: “the great challenge [of cooking] is… to derive deep satisfaction from the mundane.”

Bouchon Bistro

Keller’s offshoot bistro, Bouchon, is also located in Yountville, as well as Las Vegas and now in Beverly Hills. Bouchon also has a cookbook:

Thomas Keller, chef/proprieter of Napa Valley’s French Laundry, is passionate about bistro cooking. He believes fervently that the real art of cooking lies in elevating to excellence the simplest ingredients; that bistro cooking embodies at once a culinary ethos of generosity, economy, and simplicity; that the techniques at its foundation are profound, and the recipes at its heart have a powerful ability to nourish and please.

So enamored is he of this older, more casual type of cooking that he opened the restaurant Bouchon, right next door to the French Laundry, so he could satisfy a craving for a perfectly made quiche, or a gratinéed onion soup, or a simple but irresistible roasted chicken. Now Bouchon, the cookbook, embodies this cuisine in all its sublime simplicity.

For Keller, great cooking is all about the virtue of process and attention to detail. Even in the humblest dish, the extra thought is evident, which is why this food tastes so amazing: The onions for the onion soup are caramelized for five hours; lamb cheeks are used for the navarin; basic but essential refinements every step of the way make for the cleanest flavors, the brightest vegetables, the perfect balance—whether of fat to acid for a vinaigrette, of egg to liquid for a custard, of salt to meat for a duck confit.

This is bistro food, done beautifully in a great environment, with a terrific wine list and expert service. And the kitchen rocks! Plus, don’t forget the Bouchon Bakery bread!

Welcome to Ad Hoc!

Keller’s latest restaurant in Yountville is Ad Hoc, which specializes in a single, family-style meal each day…

Keller turns his imagination to the American comfort foods closest to his heart—flaky biscuits, chicken pot pies, New England clam bakes, and cherry pies so delicious and redolent of childhood that they give Proust’s madeleines a run for their money. And of course, there is a cookbook!

Here is the Amazon explainer: In “Ad Hoc at Home”, Keller showcases more than 200 recipes for family-style meals. This is Keller at his most playful, serving up such truck-stop classics as Potato Hash with Bacon and Melted Onions and grilled-cheese sandwiches, and heartier fare including beef Stroganoff and roasted spring leg of lamb. In fun, full-color photographs, the great chef gives step-by-step lessons in kitchen basics— here is Keller teaching how to perfectly shape a basic hamburger, truss a chicken, or dress a salad.

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken!

Finally, the legendary Ad Hoc Fried Chicken! Every other Monday, Ad Hoc serves this perfect chicken, coated in a blend of spices and buttermilk after being brined…

It is the best you’ll ever taste, and now you can make it at home – Williams Sonoma sells a “do it yourself” kit!

I’ve made it twice, and it turns out pretty close to the restaurant version…everything you need (aside from buttermilk and chicken) is right there –

Here is how mine turned out – alongside garlic mashed potatoes and baked corn –

So, whether you eat at the best restaurants in the world, casual bistros, or make it yourself, you can’t go wrong!

Categories: Awards, Books / Media, cookbooks, Food, Food Review, Recipes, Restaurants, Travel, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized, wine

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 replies

  1. I love all of these cookbooks…and I hope to eat at PerSe someday….until them, The Yountville quartet will have to satisfy the urge. Great post John!


  2. Thanks John.
    Awesome post. Hope to Alex and yourself soon.





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