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Eric Ripert's book "On the Line"

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Anyone read this? It's an inside look at the people and process of Le Bernadin restaurant.

I found it an engrossing and fun read, that I read all in one sitting. Except for the recipes.

I am at a loss to understand why he printed so many of the restaurant's recipes. First, what home cook (I assume that's the audience for the book) is going to make several sauces and spend many, many hours to cook . . . one dish?

Also, one of the important factors -- if not the most important factor -- of the restaurant's success is the excellent sources for highest quality super-fresh seafood. Since most of us home cooks aren't getting our seafood flown in to our kitchens from the fishing docks, how can we possibly aspire to simulate a LB meal at home?

Apparently Ripert is exec chef in not much more than name only, moving on to consulting to other restaurants and I hear of his upcoming food show, where there's a hint of his branching out to er, earn more money for his family.

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  1. I haven't read On the Line, but as to including very complex recipes: I often read recipes for dishes I have no intention of making. Maybe there's an interesting technique in there, or a combination of ingredients I might use in something else. I also just like reading recipes. For entertainment. Kind of like reading about travel to places I'll probably never visit.

    1. I thought the book was a great read, with some detailed (and often self-deprecating) insights into the business side of running a restaurant. It's interesting that I read this and Ferran Adria's "A Day at El Bulli" one after the other, and while in many ways the underlying concept of the books (not the restaurants) was quite similar, I found "On the Line" much more pleasant to read (though the insights into the creative processes at El Bulli are also just fascinating).

      As for the recipes, they didn't particularly strike me as rocket science. They're not for Tuesday night supper, but there were any dishes which I could see trying to do for an "event" dinner. But I do completely agree that much depends on the quality of the ingredients you can get, and on that front few of us will be able to compete with Le Bernardin.

      There's also certainly a trend of late of restaurant cookbooks at a level that few will attempt at home - aforementioned El Bulli, Alinea cookbook, Fat Duck cookbook, Thomas Keller's "Under Pressure" (which pretty much requires restaurant-quality sous vide equipment) - though that's not to say it can't be done, i.e. http://www.alineaathome.com/

      But many said the same thing about Keller's French Laundry cookbook, but I've found it a genuinely useful cookbook and have done a pretty good dinner for company out of it.

      www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

      3 Replies
      1. re: Frodnesor

        I haven't read _On the Line_ either, yet I agree that it's nice to find out the way in which certain sauces and dishes are made.

        Interestingly, Ripert's website, (http://www.aveceric.com/) has some very easy things to make in a toaster-size convection oven! I suppose his version of his fast food which every chef has cashed in on over the past 5 years.

        1. re: vinhotinto75

          *I suppose his version of his fast food which every chef has cashed in on over the past 5 years.*

          That, plus a Cuisinart toaster endorsement deal, I presume.

          www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

          1. re: Frodnesor

            Well, of course --- the Cuisinart deal.
            But I make some of those toaster oven recipes very frequently, the chicken tenders especially. They're fast and great and perfect for two people. I'm not a creative cook myself, so I'm grateful to M. Ripert. (His really fast food beats Jacques Pepin IMHO.)

      2. [First, what home cook (I assume that's the audience for the book) is going to make several sauces and spend many, many hours to cook . . . one dish?]

        Me

        =)

        3 Replies
        1. re: alwayscooking

          Great!
          If you read this book and cook anything, perhaps you'd consider posting on home cooking board? And let us know how many days the dish took to make!

          1. re: alwayscooking

            Sure - reviewing his recipes, it seems that they rely on stocks, infusions, and compound butters.

            Since I have everything but the halibut and yuzu juice (need to go to the Asian market anyway for kombu), I'll make the poached halibut, sweet and sour beets and the citrus-coriander oil emulsion (unless you'd like t recommend another). The dish itself seems to come together pretty fast, so I'll make the infused oil, beets, and ponzu sauce today/tomorrow for service on Wednesday. I'll replace the espelette with a mix of white and shizune (I haven't found the pepper) and omit the opal basil since it's out of season.

            But I tend to serve a longer prep'ed meal on Wednesday or Thursday anyway. On Sunday, I pick the item and prepare it over a couple of nights. Sauces, oils, and other component ingredients are often doubled so I can use them in/on other dishes for the rest of the week. This time, I'll try to track the time it takes me for this dish.

            After Keller, this seems straightforward.

            1. re: alwayscooking

              That halibut sounds delicious! I did a quick google, and someone has already put it online: http://www.ecookbooks.com/t-On-the-Li...

              My BIL got my sister the Alinea cookbook for Christmas. It was interesting to read the recipes and see what goes into them, but not something I'd attempt. At a chowdown the other night one chowhound said he made a recipe from that book. I asked him how long it took, and he said three days (and I don't think that counted tracking down the chemicals necessary for the molecular gastronomy elements). It seems like basically it's for people who have time and resources to devote to the pursuit of novelty. For sheer pleasure, those fancy dishes probably aren't any more satisfying than a good pot roast.

          2. I actually bought it for my son, but spent a bit of time peeking through it before I gave it to him. Lots of fun, and I enjoyed the recipes as part of the whole concept. I could definitely relate to it more than, say, the el Bulli or Alinea recipes.

            I guess we're lucky in the Boston area to be able to get great seafood, so the recipes didn't seem that far-fetched. I didn't run out and make any, though!

            1. It's a terrific book. Really enjoyed it.

              1. I am just waiting for Linda Whit and Good Health Gourmet to wade in right now.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Phaedrus

                  "I am just waiting for Linda Whit and Good Health Gourmet to wade in right now."

                  :))))

                  1. re: Phaedrus

                    :::::pant, pant:::::::::

                    I haven't read it, but I wanna know - ARE THERE PICTURES????????? ;-)

                    (are we really that transparent, Phaedrus? Oh hells yeah, we ARE! LOL)

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      Linda! We've been waiting with antici........pation.

                      1. re: Phaedrus

                        Mmmmm....ketchup.

                        And speaking of ketchup. I'm LOVING the organic Heinz ketchup! LOL

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          < I'm LOVING the organic Heinz ketchup! LOL>

                          Does it have organic corn syrup?

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            Am I reading a bit of sarcasm in your query, June? ;-) There's been a thread on this already - there's no corn syrup in it whatsoever. This is the original Heinz ketchup the way many of us remember it.

                            The ingredients as listed on the label are: organic tomato concentrate (made from red ripe organic tomatoes), organic distilled vinegar, organic sugar, salt, organic onion powder, organic spice, natural flavoring.

                            If I can't find the Muir Glen ketchup, the organic Heinz ketchup is the next best thing and easily found.

                  2. I am a fan of Ripert, but I just checked out his website and now I''m wondering if he should stick to recipes for fish? Looked over his recipe for coq au vin http://aveceric.com/2009/01/05/cozy-w...
                    then looked at the pictures and I'm very curious why his coq au vin doesn't come out wine stained as mine does? Maybe he used white wine? Anyway, I MUCH prefer using whole pearl onions and quartered mushrooms. I think they're more attractive, taste great, and who needs to dice onions AND mushrooms if you don't have to? I also use salt pork, not bacon, and it's not optional if I want my coq au vin to taste right. Out of curiosity I looked over a bunch of other coq au vin recipes on line, and his is the ONLY one that calls for diced onions and mushrooms. But he is not alone in showing pictures of chickens quite obviously NOT cooked in red wine. Why is that? I only found one photograph that showed the deeply purple chicken the actual recipes produce. I guess no one has ever heard of truth in advertising.

                    1. I think that books like these are designed for foodies to look at the pretty pictures and get an idea of what goes on in restaurants, and for those of us in the restaurant business to get inspiration and learn new techniques (re: under pressure). Occasionally home cooks will attempt these recipes, but most don't have the patience (hounds being the exception).

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: ktb615

                        ... or armies of prep cooks.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I learned a couple things from this book: (1) Ripert uses Wondra flour to bread fish before sauteing. (that's a good tip -- I tried it and it works nicely, leaving no flour residue but helps crisp it)
                          (2) the line cooks do their own prep. (though of course the sauciers make the sauces, and the multiple parts of the dish are assembled simultaneously by different cooks)

                          On a side note, it's interesting that my posting was to ask reactions of others who read the book, and I got flamed and contradicted with opinions when no one here has read it!

                          1. re: NYchowcook

                            You got flamed? I didn't see that. True - very few responses from people who've read it (including me) but I don't see the flaming and contradicting you here...unless they've already been removed.

                            1. re: NYchowcook

                              I wasn't trying to flame either, sorry if it came off that way. I have read the book, got it the day it came out and love it.

                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                re: #2 -- yes, the line guys do their own prep. it's how they control the dishes and keep them consistent. they also work 12-18 hour days for just dinner service.

                                my comment was a joke.

                          2. This is an excellent book! Especially for those that love (mostly) very refined seafood recipes. I was lucky enough through my work to get an advance copy (that was also graciously autographed) and have been using it almost every weekend to create a new dish. I would definitely give a very high recommendation. Even if you never actually cook any recipes, it's a great inspiration of how to do it right.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: FoodyGirly

                              please share with us what you like!

                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                Wow, that would be a super long post NY! |'ve probably gone through 20 pages so far. Stand outs have been the bouiliabase, the grilled cod, BBQ sauce, crab avocado potato layers, milk chocolate pots de creme, fennel compote. I'm sure there's a few more but don't have the book here where I've make markings. And being in the business I love the behind the scenes 'business' parts as well. Photographs are fabulous. Everytime I look at them I think of fresh, sparkling fish. I think the key to this book and cooking anything really, is to start out with the best *star* product, this case being fish/seafood that you can, and not worry so much about the technique or if you have all the ingredients on hand. These are for sure some very time-consuming, intricate dishes, but the more I'm getting into it, the more I'm not following it to a 't', but making it my own, with what I have on hand.

                            2. I love the instructions on plating.