Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Foray Into Fine Dining.

My three months at The French Laundry have come to a close. I am both sad and ecstatic about this. Ecstatic because I will now begin my career in the restaurant industry, sad because it was one of the greatest experiences a person could have. Every single person at The French Laundry was so passionate about their career and so incredibly welcoming to me. This is such a great environment to learn in. I was pushed so hard by every single person in so many different ways. The things I have learned will stay with me for a very long time, and those things are so pervasive they have permeated every aspect of my life; effecting how I do every task in my life.

To finish my time at The French Laundry, I received the privilege of dining at The French Laundry, but not just in the dining room, but in "The Box", which is Thomas Keller's tiny office walled with windows looking right into the kitchen. And i'm not saying I can just see the kitchen, I can see every plate that is made and what every person in the kitchen is doing at all times. It was an incredible experience. Dining here was such an incredible feeling, with all the chefs and waiters coming by and saying hello to me and checking in on me.

Coming into the front of the restaurant (instead of the back door to the kitchen) was definitely different, but it felt right, and everyone does everything in their power to make you feel like the most special person in the world, and this feeling lasted the entire five and one-half hours I spent dining at The French Laundry.

Because my meal consisted of 20 courses, it's going to be impossible for me to do this in one post, so stay tuned, this will all come out in the next few days.

As you can see, my view of the kitchen is quite spectacular, here with my Ployez-Jacquement champagne, bottled specially for The French Laundry.

My first course was a Gruyere Cheese gougere. To prepare this, one must made pate a choux dough, which involves cooking butter, water, salt, sugar and flour in a pan until it becomes sticky. Eggs are then added to the dough, then it is piped onto a pan, covered with grated cheese and baked for 7 to 8 minutes at 350. They poof up when baked, so they are slightly hollow in the middle.

Next course is a Thomas Keller classic; a dish imagined before Thomas Keller's French Laundry was even born. This "cornet" is topped with salmon tartare and filled with red onion creme fraiche. To produce this dish, the commis make the dough for the cones at 5:30 in the morning. This is a simple batter of flour, sugar, salt and butter. It is rolled on a cone when still hot to make that shape.

For the salmon tartare, the salmon fillets are minced very finely by hand with a very sharp knife. Then olive oil, lemon oil, minced chives, minced shallots, salt and pepper are added.

To make the red onion creme fraiche, the red onions are finely minced and dried. The creme fraiche is whipped to soft peaks, and then the onions, salt and pepper are added.

To finish, the creme fraiche is piped into the bottom of the cone, and the salmon is scooped with a small spoon and placed on top. Then a chive tip is placed right on top of the salmon.

Courses to come: "Clam Chowder", Pig's Head, Uni, Halibut, Squid

1 comment:

bmpro said...

amazing...congrats...I actually am doing my externship here in November and cannot wait...where did you stay? good luck with the future!!!