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On the Line: Inside the World of Le Bernadin – Book review

04 September 2009 by
On the Line: Inside the World of Le Bernadin – Book review

On the Line: Inside the World of Le Bernadin Eric Ripert & Christine Muhlke
Published 24 August by Artisan, Workman Publishing £20
ISBN 978-1-5796-5369-9

On The Line is a manual of how to run a successful restaurant for more than 20 years. Three-Michelin-starred chef Eric Ripert's new book provides an in depth tour of the workings of his legendary New York fish restaurant, Le Bernadin.

It is a book of two halves, and the recipes, tempting and sublime as they are when you finally come across them on page 146, are almost a sideshow. The larger tranche of the book takes the reader through every facet of the operation.

Initial chapters start with the basics, from what positions comprise a kitchen brigade to essentials for cooks. Ripert then moves on to the real nitty-gritty of the operation, from how a dish is created to the restaurant set-up and even a list of 129 cardinal sins.

Biographies of the key players, and their average day in a timeline, make you feel you're joining the brigade with a real sense of what's happening behind the scenes.

The whole thing is just so very New York: it's brash up-front pictures are reminiscent of the neon flashes of a city that never sleeps; and its detailed timelines giving the sense of urgency endured in a service. This book will be out of date in a flash, but it's a wonderful snapshot of a legendary restaurant where readers can learn almost everything they want to know.

Oh and the recipes, which include hand-drawn diagrams of how to plate the dish, range from yellowfin tuna with foie gras and toasted baguette with chives and extra virgin olive oil; sautéd calamari filled with sweet prawns and wood ear mushrooms in calamari consommé; to pan roasted monkfish with truffled potato foam and red wine brandy sauce.

On the dessert side, "Egg" - Ripert's signature dessert of milk chocolate pots de crème with caramel foam, maple syrup and Maldon sea salt - is featured alongside other dishes such as vanilla parfait with lemon sorbet, citrus biscuit and crisp meringue.

Most chefs count their books a success if readers are tempted to try out a recipe or two in the kitchen or at home, but this is so much more, it makes you want to apply for a job and get really stuck in.

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