“FOUR YEARS AGO we started out with the idea that we were only going to remodel the wine cellar,” says a smiling Thomas Keller, standing outside the French Laundry, his landmark three-Michelin-star restaurant in Yountville, California. Dressed in tailored black trousers, leather clogs and his customary bespoke Isaia chef’s coat, Keller, 61, surveys what has become a much larger construction site.
Six buildings have now been demolished on the restaurant’s half-acre campus to make room for a new 1,981-square-foot kitchen; a separate 2,120-square-foot annex for offices, an area for butchering and 16,000 bottles of wine; and 9,000 square feet of fresh landscape design, including a new dedicated pathway onto the property that leads into the dining room.
To enter the restaurant, guests will first pass through a row of Japanese maple trees and an openair threshold cut into a wall made from local basalt. Beyond that, they’ll see the kitchen, skinned with contrasting materials. On the left: panels of fritted glass. On the right: gray-brown wood treated with a Japanese scorching technique known as shou sugi ban. “That wood is never painted,” explains Keller. “It’s beautiful because of the way it’s burned.” Read More Here