ISSUE 6  |  The French Connection

Garden Visit: The French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley

February 10, 2015 11:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

Although “the best restaurant in the world” is closed for a remodel, The French Laundry’s edible garden still will be working hard to supply chef Thomas Keller’s pop-up restaurant (named Ad Lib) at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, CA.

Keller, who closed the restaurant in December to build a new kitchen, plans to reopen The French Laundry later this year (good news for fellow chef Anthony Bourdain, who describes The French Laundry as the best restaurant in the world).

Photographer Mitch Maher visited the three-acre culinary garden last summer during peak season, as the influential restaurant was celebrating its 20th anniversary. Here’s a glimpse of the organic vegetables, herbs, and berries Keller likes to grow for his garden-to-table menus:

Photographs by MB Maher courtesy of A Growing Obsession.

The French Laundry's edible kitchenAbove: The French Laundry Culinary Garden, located across the street from the restaurant, grows 30 percent of the vegetables that Keller serves at the restaurant.

The French Laundry's edible garden.Above: Keller uses the garden, which is open to the public, as a test site to try new varieties of herbs, vegetables, and berries.

The French Laundry's edible gardenAbove: The hoop house protects tender seedlings from wind and birds.

The French Laundry's edible gardenAbove: The garden may have up to 200 products available to use in the restaurant on a typical day. Many of the chef’s favorite varieties are those whose flavor peaks when they’re very young.

The French Laundry's edible garden in YountvilleAbove: More than a dozen varieties of lettuce seedlings grow in flats in the humid warmth of the greenhouse.

The French Laundry's edible garden in YountvilleAbove: Lettuces are harvested in the early morning, when it’s still cool.

The French Laundry's edible garden in YountvilleAbove: More than 25 varieties of heirloom tomatoes grow in the garden.

Bees at the French Laundry's edible garden in YountvilleAbove: The garden’s bee hives produce honey for the restaurant.

The French Laundry's edible garden in YountvilleAbove: More than 50 garden beds are laid out in a checkerboard pattern, separated by grass walkways. The French Laundry Culinary Garden is across the street from the restaurant at 6640 Washington St., Yountville, CA.

 

Planning a trip to California’s Napa Valley? Stop in at our favorite spots, including: