So right off the bat I will admit that I am a bit unusual when it comes to food. Not long after I moved to California 16 years ago, I started a dinner club with some coworkers and embarked on a culinary journey that continues to this day. Back in those days the members of the club pushed each other to improve through increasingly elaborate meals that reached fruition with a garden party for 50 friends that was talked about, literally, for years. It was during this period that I started reading cookbooks cover to cover like normal people read novels. Since I was living in the bay area The French Laundry was always a mythical restaurant, and when the cookbook came out I devoured it and dreamed of one day getting to dine there. In September 2000 Emily and I first dined at The French Laundry with some or our cooking cohorts. It was an beautiful September afternoon in Yountville and we got to eat out on the patio. The meal was spectacular and we had the good fortune of being able to go into the kitchen and meet Thomas Keller in person.
(Photo Credit: Peter Graffagnino)
It was a very special day for us and the signed and framed menu of that meal is still proudly displayed on the wall of our kitchen. Over the years my cooking has improved a great deal and I have added even more Thomas Keller cookbooks to my shelf and more of his recipes to my repertoire. It would be fair to say I find Chef Keller inspiring. Emily and I have dined at all of his (local) restaurants multiple times and this past December were able to return to the French Laundry with some good friends for an even more spectacular evening in white truffle season! It was quite simply, a perfect evening in all respects.
White Truffle Float (More Photos…)
One of our group has a rather special relationship with The French Laundry. It was through her that I learned that they allow a few people to work in the kitchen in special culinary experiences. Suffice it so say, I was extremely jealous. So imagine my surprise when I got a text asking me if I wanted to take her place in the Bouchon kitchen this coming week. A last minute illness of her babysitter was going to prevent her from going and she was wondering if I could take her place. By some incredible stroke of luck (and because of my wonderful wife!) it turned out I could! I figured this was finally the thing to get me to start writing online so that people could follow my adventure…