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A Sweet Deal

The triumphant return of pastry chef Patrick Fahy to the French Laundry.



Photos by Thor Swift

Eyes wide with anticipation, foodies often ask Napa locals if they have been to The French Laundry. For those lucky enough to answer yes, the question conjures up images of beautiful gardens, intricate dishes, and a seamlessly choreographed experience in a league of its own.

To be a chef in this coveted Yountville kitchen is an honor reserved for the best of the best. And with the return of Patrick Fahy, who was handpicked by Thomas Keller, the experience of dining at The French Laundry is likely to become even better.

Born and raised in Chicago, Fahy, 35, has worked with food for two decades. He served as chef de partie at The French Laundry in 2008, before sharpening his skills at some of the Windy City’s best restaurants, including Paul Kahan’s Avec, Blackbird, and The Publican.

In Chicago, Fahy also worked at Sixteen in Trump International Hotel and Tower, which earned two Michelin stars during his stint there. He was also a James Beard nominee for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2011, and a semifinalist in 2012 and 2013.

Fahy, who puts only his family before his passion for cuisine, says he lacks the words to describe “what an honor it is to work for chef Keller at The French Laundry.” So he lets the emotions come through in his craft.

He is inspired by the prowess of Keller’s team and freshness of the kitchen’s ingredients.

“Just yesterday, culinary gardener Aaron Keefer stepped into the kitchen and showed me these unbelievably beautiful almond blossoms,” Fahy says. “We paired the blossoms with beautiful blood oranges, grapefruit, vanilla chantilly, roasted almonds dressed with almond oil, and fleur de sel.”

The French Laundry’s menu is seasonal, so Fahy doesn’t have a signature dish. But he says he is drawn to “Vacherin of pandan custard and classic crème brûlée that show off technique; sugar-blown fruit, which showcase texture and skill; and chocolate ganache paired with cupuaçu.”

He says he particularly loves spring, when he can experiment with green almonds, strawberries, and rhub-arb—reminders of his mother’s cooking and one of many reasons sweets lovers should book their reservations now. frenchlaundry.com.

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