There are few chefs as acclaimed as Thomas Keller. The American behind The French Laundry in California and Per Se in New York is one that other chefs name-drop as inspiration. After dotting the US with restaurants, he is now to launch in the Middle East.

Three of his Bouchon Bakeries will open in the Gulf this year – in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence, and Kuwait and Qatar, in a franchise partnership with M.H. Alshaya Co. The company has franchises with the likes of Shake Shack, P. F. Chang and Starbucks.

So what is Bouchon Bakery? It’s a French bakery-inspired concept that began in July 2003 in Yountville in Napa Valley – also home to Keller’s French Laundry (The New York Times calls that restaurant ‘one of the greatest restaurants in the world’, although the same paper’s restaurant reviewer, Pete Wells, earlier this year demoted Per Se from four stars to two). Expect artisanal breads, croissants, coffee, breakfast and cafe dishes like eggs and sandwiches.

‘As we expand outside the United States, we are pleased to partner with Alshaya, which has a track record of successfully franchising international brands,’ said Keller in a statement. ‘Together we will make Bouchon Bakery an outstanding destination for our Middle East guests and visitors alike. I’m eagerly looking forward to our official debut.’

Bouchon Bakery ‘has a well-deserved reputation for excellence’ said Mohammad Al Shaya, executive chairman of M.H. Alshaya Co. ‘We look forward to introducing this innovative dining experience to customers in the Middle East and anticipate an exciting future together.’