The French Laundry’s 20th Anniversary Celebration! Chef Thomas Keller’s “XX” Party! Food Pics Galore!

TFL XX Anniversary Party

A French Laundry XX Party!

Time to celebrate twenty (XX) years of greatness, thanks to Chef Thomas Keller and the legendary French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California!

yountville wine country tourism

20 Years Of Incredible Food!

It began twenty years ago when a former “french laundry” in Yountville California – which had been turned into a restaurant years earlier – became the home to a food revolution…beginning with a “cone of salmon”…

French Laundry salmon cone

And ending with a small token acknowledging your visit…a clothespin with the restaurant’s logo:

The French Laundry Clothespin

In between these two moments is a dinner that involves more than a dozen dishes – culinary “works of art” – each more beautifully presented than the one before…courtesy of a Chef who helped define “fine dining” in America in the 90’s…

chef Thomas Keller 20 year anniversary

Time To Celebrate The French Laundry!

Chef Thomas Keller opened The French Laundry in Yountville, California on July 6, 1994, and in the twenty years since, he has won every culinary award there is to win, including being named “The World’s Best Restaurant” in 2004 by Restaurant Magazine!

Keller Cooking

Time To Celebrate The French Laundry!

My wife Alex and I were lucky enough to spend July 4, 2014 at The French Laundry for a special 20th anniversary dinner – and we attended the huge “XX” celebration the next night!

Chef Keller greeting guests

We were greeted in the courtyard with a flute of twenty-year-old champagne – presented by an amazing staff that includes Michael, Larry, Olivia, Lauren and Gillaume among many others! And Chef Keller was there to greet everyone as well, before we were taken in for the meal of a lifetime – and Chef Keller was cooking that night alongside his team, including French Laundry’s Chef de Cuisine David Breeden…

French Laundry Chef David Breeden

Our Special “XX” Menu Begins!

Once seated, we are given an introduction from Chef Keller, in which he explains his philosophy behind the restaurant…

The French Laundry special dinner Mission Statement

A “XX” Celebration Of The French Laundry’s Greatest Hits!

The night’s menu is a “greatest hits” collection of signature dishes that the restaurant has served at various times in its twenty year history. As always, you have a clothespin waiting for you, but tonight it has a different logo:

XX Clothespins and plate

You are always served a gougere first: a french cheese puff filled with a warm, liquid cheese center…

French Laundry gougere recipe

Then comes the restaurant’s “signature” amuse bouche: Chef Thomas Keller’s individually wrapped cone of salmon and creme fraiche, almost like two arms welcoming you to the meal!

French Laundry salmon cone

Next is, for me, the single greatest dish he has created:

“Oysters And Pearls”

Oysters and pearls

This incredibly rich dish is a Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar…the oysters are the size of dimes and poached, with a briny smoothness that matches perfectly with the caviar…it has always been our favorite…we took a quick break to grab a picture on the terrace outside….

The French Laundry anniversary dinner

Next Up:

“Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm”

The French Laundry salad

This is a salad of Brentwood Corn, Garden Radishes, Pickled Chanterelle Mushrooms and Wild Purslane – perfectly composed as a quarter moon…

The first fish course is a TFL classic:

“Atlantic Skate ‘Poelee'”

TFL XX skate dinner

The skate has been wrapped and served with Carmelized Savoy Cabbage and Whole Grain Mustard Emulsion

Our next course is anything but:

“Peas And Carrots”

The French Laundry poached lobster

What a misnomer! A Pea Tendril salad with sweet carrot butter is joined on the plate by butter poached Maine Lobster! Sous Vide Lobster is one of Keller’s signature achievements, and the combination of pea tendril and sweet carrot butter is a knockout…

I did mention we were drinking wine the entire time, right?

JR wine tasting dinner

Another note: the table was beautifully set, and as it grew darker outside, the setting came to life even more…

The French Laundry table setting

Cue The Truffles!

Dinner stops for a moment as Olivia arrives with a box – of Australian truffles…

French Laundry box of truffles

And then you are delivered this dome…and underneath:

The French Laundry table service

French Laudnry potatoes

“Degustation De Pommes De Terre”

The dome is lifted and you get a Ragout of Garden Potatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Strauss Butter – oh, and Shaved Australian Black Winter Truffle!

shaving truffle French Laundry

The French Laundry potato and truffles

Your plate is literally covered with shaved truffles…but those amazingly delicious potatoes are still underneath – with a richness almost impossible to describe…and the hits just kept on coming:

TFL Duck recipe

“Wildflower Honey Lacquered Liberty Farm Pekin Duck”

Yes, a honey lacquered duck breast with Poached Brooks Cherries, Garden Turnips, “foie de Canard” and Watercress – and the “foie” was shaved on like a truffle!

The French Laundry XX table service

Duck TFL style

I apologize for the dimness of the pics, but I don’t use a flash ever inside a restaurant, and I always ask permission to photograph the dishes as well…The French Laundry has no problem with pics, just no flash…so you have to imagine just how amazing this tastes!

Time now for:

French Laundry beef

“Charcoal Grilled Snake River Farms ‘Calotte De Boeuf'”

Yes, a delicious ‘calotte de boeuf”, served with Crispy Bone Marrow that looks like a tater tot, Garden Beans, Oregon Cepes and “Blanquette de Champignons”

Time to slide into dessert mode, with a short stop for some cheese:

cheesecake dessert

“Cateau De Bleu D’Auvergne”

Stewed Blueberries, English Walnuts and Cutting Celery

Next is a light palate cleansing dessert:

French Laundry dessert

“Strawberries And Cream”

Mascarpone Sherbet with Tellicherry Black Peppercorn and Strawberry Syrup

Now it’s time for a gorgeous dish:

“ile Flottante”

French Laundry dessert cage

This is a delicious Tahitian Vanilla Bean “Creme Anglaise”, Poached Swiss Merangue, Valrhona Chocolate “Cremeux” and Spun Sugar – a gilded cage of flavor!

20th anniversary dessert

Well, an incredible meal ends on a delicious high note…oh wait…just moments after we think we are done…one of the restaurant’s most iconic menu items arrives:

the french laundry dessert

Surprise Dessert – “Coffee And Doughnuts!”

Yes, fresh warm doughnut holes are delivered, along with a cup of “Coffee” – coffee ice cream!

coffee dessert

What a great way to end the meal – oh, then they bring around:


French Laundry dessert truffles

These incredible bites are filled with cognac, peanut butter and jelly, salted caramel – which ever ones you choose, it is a mouthful of delight!

Dinner is done – more than 3 hours after we started!

We were given a copy of our menu, signed by Chef…

french laundry menu

And then we had the chance to step into the kitchen to see the team in action – and to have a picture taken with Chef Keller:

TFL Kitchen

Chef Keller JR and Alex

The French Laundry’s XX Anniversary Celebration Continues!

On July 5, the main street through Yountville was closed so that The French Laundry could celebrate with 500 of their closest friends!

French Laundry XX Party

XX sculpture and champagne station

TFL XX Ice Sculpture

Yes, a “XX” Ice Sculpture, free flowing Champagne – and cups of caviar for everyone! The sculpture not only kept the champagne cold, it held little glass bowls of caviar and custard – topped with crispy onion!

caviar cup

A Foodie Celebration!

Five hundred guests mingled and sampled a wide array of food – everything from sausages in pretzel rolls and homemade ketchup and mustard, with a sweet corn relish…

hot dog in pretzel roll

And continuing on to fresh crudite stands, which makes sense as the French Laundry garden is just across the street from the restaurant…

Vegetables from TFL garden

TFL Garden sunset

There were also charcuterie stations, as well as a raw bar with shrimp and oysters…

TFL Party charcuterie station

Oysters and Charcuterie

popcorn dispensers

Yep, they had popcorn dispensers surrounding the party as well – and passed appetizers as well…including those amazing salmon cones from dinners, now in three different versions!

Tray of Salmon cones

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches With Bacon – And Truffle!

That’s right, they set up grilled cheese stations, with one sandwich holding bacon, another truffle!

Grilled cheese TFL

Applewood smoke bacon sandwich recipe

Australian truffles

truffle and cheese sandwich

Chef Keller Speaks!

After 90 minutes of eating and sipping, it was time for Chef Keller to take the stage:

Chef Keller onstage

After an inspiring speech, Chef Keller mingled with guests, including famed Chef Daniel Boulud:

Boulud and Keller

Thomas Keller Anniversary event

And then it was time to dance! The band kicked into party mode, and the rest of the night was for having more fun!

band performs

TFL Party late night

Chef Keller’s Team!

Kudos to the entire Thomas Keller restaurant group – simply the best in the business! Here is the video that Chef Keller posted to celebrate all of the incredible team members who have been part of the restaurant’s success!

TFL XX Ice Sculpture

What a great night of celebration, and thanks to the entire French Laundry team for a true night to remember! Here’s to twenty more years of food memories!

French Laundry Cookbook

Cook The Laundry At Home!

And of course, if you want to take on some of these culinary challenges at home, buy the cookbook, written with terrific food Author Michael Ruhlman! Read all about it by clicking on that story here:

Congrats to Chef Thomas Keller, and his entire French Laundry team!

French Laundry band and guests anniversary party

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15 replies

  1. Thanks so much for all the time it took to put this together enjoyed reading it and seeing all the pictures immensely.

    Liked by 1 person


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