The French Laundry

Opened in 1994, Thomas Keller´s three-starred Michelin restaurant in Yountville, California has been highly regarded as a mecca for fine French cuisine for over 20 years. Snøhetta´s design is the first major restoration to the world known restaurant and its surroundings, and doubles the size of the existing landscape for guests while providing a new working environment for Thomas Keller and his team that optimizes efficiency and a meaningful environment for the chefs working there.

Arriving at The French Laundry, guests now begin their experience through a sequence of new garden spaces. Conceptualized as a series of thresholds, the arrival has been treated with attention to the details. A new area welcomes visitors in a bright, open court, shaded by Japanese maples that line a garden wall.

Discrete zones for gathering are placed in the interior courtyard, and on the way to the dining room, guests are greeted by the glow of the kitchen at work, visible through the ribbon window of the new kitchen´s glass walls. A new annex houses The French Laundry´s support functions, such as offices, conference room, test kitchen, butchery and a wine cellar.

New appliances including a wood-burning oven expand the new kitchen´s culinary innovation. The design introduces materials such as flooring that is better for the foot and more easily cleaned, and counter top heights and dimensions of other elements are adjusted to improve the ergonomics.

Skylights above bring natural light into the kitchen, and beneath the skylights are custom-built pass tables with concave table ends, protecting the chefs in the aisles of the hectic kitchen allowing them to better focus on the work.

The French Laundry project has been a collaboration between Snøhetta, chef Thomas Keller, and Envelope A+D practice based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Photo: Michael Grimm.