Restaurants should be gathering places—places to catch up with family and friends, commemorate special moments and make new memories. This is why we gravitate toward the cookbooks from our favorite restaurants; revisiting their recipes helps us to remember the moments we shared there. But a fine meal in a restaurant is made up of so much more than the food; how do we remember the almost imperceptible details that make our experiences unique?
Laura Cunningham, Vice President of Branding and Creative Development for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, sought a way to preserve these sense memories. The Napa Valley native has set the tone and presided over the aesthetics of each of Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants since The French Laundry first opened. Understanding the layers of care and attention that go into the guest experience, she pursued a partnership with someone who would capture these layers for guests to take home.
Frederick Bouchardy runs one of the finest fragrance houses in the world, Joya, based out of Brooklyn. Frederick has been making bespoke scents for designers, artists and discerning brands since 2006 and while demand is high, he only partners with select collaborators each year. Laura Cunningham and Finesse, The Store, are one of them.
In a two-year-long collaboration, Frederick and Laura worked to find a balance among more than 120 raw materials that would encapsulate the place, time, and feeling behind The French Laundry, Per Se, Ad Hoc and Bouchon. The scents were then built from scratch, without bases or accords, in a process reminiscent of fine perfume-making.
“It was a deliberate and beautiful journey,” says Frederick.
"I think food and fragrance are similar in the way that they transport you to a time and place. Our scents are based on the elements of each establishment, whether those be menu ingredients, components of architecture and ambiance, landscape environments or historical nuances,” says Laura.
In line with the restaurants’ philosophy of not wasting and using all the trim, each of the components of the candles incorporate a sustainability factor. From the organic paint, recycled paper and glue-less bottoms of the boxes, each decision reflected both partners’ commitment to sustainability.