Southern California, which no doubt has been starved for a stellar Thomas Keller restaurant, will finally get one in late 2009 when a new Beverly Hills outpost of Bouchon will open.
The French bistro will be on North Canon Drive in the Beverly Hills Gardens building. It will be adjacent to the Montage Hotel, which will open later this year.
“This project is a homecoming of sorts for me as I worked for many years in the Los Angeles area,” said Keller in a statement, referring to his time overseeing Checkers restaurant before he was fired for insubordination. But that wasn’t such a bad thing, as not long after that in 1992, Keller ended up buying the French Laundry in Yountville; and the rest, of course, is four-star culinary history.
World-class restaurant designer Adam D. Tihany, who created the look for Bouchon in Yountville, as well as Per Se and Bouchon Bakery in New York, will once again turn his magic on creating this Keller restaurant that will seat 225. The two-story structure will house the restaurant on the second floor and a Bouchon Bakery on the first level.
Rory Herrmann will be the chef de cuisine. He is the former private dining kitchen chef at Per Se.
Bouchon Beverly Hills will join the Bouchon family, which also includes a Bouchon Bistro and a Bouchon Bakery in Las Vegas.
Not to be left out, Laura Cunningham, Keller’s former long-time girlfriend who ran the front-of-the-house operations at French Laundry and turned service into a true art there, will be opening up a restaurant of her own in Yountville.
Cunningham, who has been a restaurant and hotel consultant all over the world since leaving the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group about two years ago, will take over the former Pere Jeanty restaurant site on Washington Street. She plans to rename the restaurant, Vita, which means “life” in Italian. It also was the first name of Cunningham’s late grandmother. The restaurant will be contemporary Italian with an emphasis on her family’s Sicilian and southern Italian heritage.
The concept, image and design will be overseen by Cunningham. The daily operations of the 120-seat restaurant will be managed by Culinary Director Jeffrey Cerciello of Bouchon and Ad Hoc restaurants, along with the team from the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group.