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Apr 5, 2009 12:40 PM

Eric Ripert's book "On the Line"

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.

      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.

      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, ( 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.

          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?]



        3 Replies
        1. re: alwayscooking

          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:

              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.