by Eric Ripert
Born in Antibes in 1965, Eric Ripert learned to cook at his mother's side. At the age of 29, he became chef at Le Bernardin-the landmark four-star restaurant in New York City. This year, Ripert was named the 2003 Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. Unfortunately, his fame has had a great price: As his reputation has grown and the restaurant flourishes, Ripert's life has become somewhat of a paradox. The more acclaimed in his profession, the further removed he is from the act of cooking.
A Return to Cooking is Ripert's journey back to his culinary roots. He was joined in his adventure by Colombian artist and friend Valentino Cortazar, photographers Tammar and Shimon Rothstein and writer Michael Ruhlman. Over the course of a year, Ripert left Le Bernardin for a short stretch each season: Long Island, Puerto Rico, Napa Valley and Vermont were his carefully chosen destinations.
Using local seasonal ingredients, Ripert became inspired by the countryside settings and the home kitchens where the group gathered. Each locale "dictated" its own dishes: Goat Cheese and Ricotta Terrine (page 69) because it is perfect for a day at the beach on Long Island; Banana Mille-Feuille with Gingered Chocolate Sauce (page 136) is just right in Puerto Rico because, as Ripert puts it, "Bananas are so plentiful and delicious, it would be a crime not to feature them in a dessert."
In Napa, Ripert was transported back to his youth, dazzled by the freshest, most beautiful ingredients he had seen since he left Europe. The results are dishes such as Lobster Salad with Mango and Foie Gras (page 174) and Portobello and Eggplant Tart (page 171). In Vermont, one house had a vast, open fireplace that simply begged to be used for cooking fare such as White and Black Bean Ragout with a Variety of Sausages (page 258) and Fire-Roasted Pheasant à la Ficelle with Truffled Lentils (page 268).
A Return to Cooking's recipes are interspersed with narratives offering insights and suggestions prompted by the moment: Ripert reflects on the difference between soups and sauces; how to recognize the freshest fish; on a chef's process; on the power of the vinaigrette; how to poach or roast to perfection, and much more.
Gorgeous still-life photographs and photoreportage shots by the Rothsteins in combination with luscious paintings by Cortazar result in a cookbook that declares on every page that food is improvisation, that food is art.
About the Authors
Born in Antibes, Eric Ripert was mentored by Joël Robuchon at Jamin in Paris, Jean-Louis Palladin in Washington, D.C. And Gilbert Le Coze in New York. He is now the executive chef and part owner of Le Bernardin, awarded four stars by The New York Times and rated best restaurant in New York by Zagat Survey. In 1997 GQ magazine named Le Bernardin the best restaurant in America. Ripert also holds a number of James Beard awards and is the coauthor of one previous book, Le Bernardin Cookbook.
Michael Ruhlman is the author of the International Association of Culinary Professionals award-winning best-seller The Soul of the Chef as well as The Making of a Chef. In 1999 he received the James Beard award for magazine writing for "An Alphabet Test of Nerves."
A Return to Cooking
by Eric Ripert & Michael Ruhlman
352 pages, more than 125 recipes
Nearly 400 color photographs and illustrations
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created April 2004
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