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A Return to Cooking Hardcover – November 4, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Eric Ripert, chef and part owner of New York's Le Bernadin, discovered that as his chef star rose he drifted far, far away from cooking. A Return to Cooking is his response to this sorry predicament, the result of a self-imposed challenge: to gather together disparate souls--a painter (Valentino Cortazar), a writer (Michael Ruhlman, author of The Making of a Chef and The Soul of a Chef), photographers (Shimon and Tammar Rothstein), and a personal assistant (Andrea Glick, who would write and test the spontaneously created recipes)--and simply cook.

The settings (and fresh food ingredients) are spectacular. Sag Harbor in summer. Puerto Rico in winter. California's Napa Valley in spring. Vermont in fall. Rent a house, shop for food, and make the meals happen. For anyone who has ever wanted to understand how a great cook looks at ingredients and settles on a plan, A Return to Cooking is it. In Puerto Rico the reader is treated to Caramelized Pineapple Crepes with Crème Frâiche; Shrimp with Fresh Coconut Milk, Calabaza, and Avocado; and Seared Tuna with Escabeche of Pear Tomatoes.

What Ripert does with food, the Rothsteins do with photos, Cortazar does with paints, and Ruhlman does with words. The stimulating recipes rise out of a young lifetime of experience. This is a big, lush book (330 pages, 150 recipes, nearly 400 color photos and illustrations) dense with information, technique, and flavor. For anyone who has wandered far from the kitchen and the pleasures inherent in cooking, A Return to Cooking will bring you right back home. --Schuyler Ingle

From Publishers Weekly

What happens when chef Ripert exchanges the rarefied atmosphere of New York City's Le Bernardin for the sometimes melodramatic company of artistes- photographers Shimon and Tammar Rothstein, Valentino Cortazar, a Colombian painter who doesn't rise until noon and writer Ruhlman (Soul of a Chef) -to experiment in four locales and get back to his roots as a cook? Readers get a peek at the spontaneous inspiration behind such imaginative recipes as Halibut with Grapes and Red Wine-Port Sauce, along with tips for preparation, and colorful paintings and elegant photographs. Ripert cooks in four locales-Sag Harbor, N.Y., Puerto Rico, Napa Valley, and Cavendish, Vt.-though recipes do not always correspond to local produce (a lobster dish in Vermont, eels and frogs legs in Napa, and truffles in Puerto Rico). In Puerto Rico, Ripert's love for everything Latin shines in such recipes as Shrimp with Fresh Coconut Milk, Calabaza. In Napa, emphasizing mushrooms, Ripert makes Portobello and Eggplant Tart and Double-Cut Veal Chops with Morels and Herb Butter, and on Long Island he prepares Snapper with Caramelized and Braised Shallots and Shallot Jus. Ripert offers invaluable insights into sauces-practically everything has a sauce or a pesto. Interspersed throughout are sections on, for example, how to make Lemon Confit and how to humanely kill a lobster. The narrative can become precious: Ripert says "I touch an onion, and something happens inside me." Overall, however, this is a practical and rare look into what happens when a chef comes out of the industrial-sized kitchen and into the fire of his reativity.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Artisan; First Edition edition (November 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579651879
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579651879
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 1 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,001,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
For a foodie, this is a five star book!!
I have eaten at Le Bernadin several times (during the joyous excesses of the late 90s), and was fortunate to have also dined twice in the cozy 'private room' that gives diners a view of the kitchen. I have Ripert's other book, the Bernadin fish book,and when I have managed to have almost everything needed on hand, (except the 5-hour stocks, etc), I was able to make a few outstanding dishes. "Return to Cooking", however, is less complex and less fussy in some, but not all, of its recipes. I have made several recipes from "Return" with great success, the easiest and best being Cod with Chorizo, Soy sauce and Sherry Vinegar.
This book is not for the beginner cook, or even for the timid intermediate cook. In my opinion, this is a cook book for someone who had tasted fine restaurant food and who has the desire, skills and budget to attempt to replicate their best dining experiences. My warning: if you need explanations about technique or don't have access to the freshest ingredients, you probably cannot bring these marvelous recipes to life.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Scott Raisch on November 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the second cook-book that Michael Ruhlman has taken part in if I'm not mistaken (the first being "The French Laundry",) and yet another smashing success!
Eric Ripert is one of New York's finest chef's, and in this, his second cook-book, he shows us exactly why he and Le Bernadin have been given the honor of "Best Chef" and "Best Restaurant" by several different sources! Ripert shows us his inner thoughts, his soul if you will, in many of the recipes that you will find here within this tome. Dishes such as: "Figs Wrapped in Bacon", "Seared Tuna with Escabeche of Pear Tomatoes" and "Mussels with Spicy Italian Sausage" show us how simple and yet exactly how refined Eric Riperts cooking and tastes can be!
Beyond the recipes, this 320 page book includes intermitant stories of Eric Ripert and fiver other friends and their experiences living together in four different locations during four different seasons! At the same time, readers will find commentary from the authors as they watch Ripert cook, or preparing his ingredients; Riperts own wistful thinking of Food and the Food Culture; many BEAUTIFUL photographs, equally beautiful paintings by Valentino Cortazar, and culinary advice from all involved in the making of this wonderfully crafted tome!
The most important aspect that I have to say about this book before I finish is that virtually ALL of these recipes are scaled to portions adequate for the home cook; and that they are often easy enough for nearly any novice or home cook to re-create for themselves, and yet refined and inspired enough that a professional would want to use them at their own restaurant!
Bon Appetit!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This combination cookbook, art book, and memoir is the story of a major celebrity chef's retreat from restaurant cooking to spend four weeks of culinary invention with a supporting cast of one culinary journalist (Michael Ruhlman), one painter (Valintino Cortazar), two photographers (Shimon and Tamar Rothstein), and a sous chef / recipe scribe Andrea Glick, all in a rather pricy package.
For the $50 list, one gets about 156 recipes, 15 of which are for condiments and ingredient preparations such as a vinaigrette and confit of lemon. Included in the price is the text by Ripert and Ruhlman which can be read in less than 4 hours, very good photographs of some, but not all of the dishes and photos of Rippert staring at and fondling ingredients, and about 100 paintings by Cortazar.
The most valuable aspect of this book is what it reveals about how Rippert reached his level of excellence in the culinary arts, and how he works to maintain that level. Rippert appears to follow the same path as Bobby Flay, Emril Lagasse, Tony Bourdain, and, if you can believe it, Alton Brown, where these people were mediocre at school and other vocations until they discovered cooking, which, along with some very important mentors, they came alive with the passion needed for excellence in the culinary arts. Rippert's primary mentor was the great French chef Joel Robuchon, who demanded a level of excellence and discipline which only a handful of chefs can accomplish. The insights of this sort you simply don't get on the Food Network. Wolfgang Puck will give you his secret for a poached beef, but not for the way he thinks when he creates and tests recipes.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Troy Miller on May 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What a great book!! While I'm not the quickest in the kitchen, the suggested prep and cook times were dead on (for me anyway). And the results......STUNNING! The cucumber and lamb salad is not only quick and is freakin' delicious. It was a hit at my last dinner party.
The other great thing about this book is that it contains no impossible to find ingredients. Being in Las Vegas, gourmet food stores don't exist. I can find the ingredients easily. An important issue for me aat least.
Lastly, the book is a piece of art. Great photos! Great illustrations! Great writing. This isn't just a book of recipes but also insights and hints from Eric. This guy is awesome and I hope he someday makes another book similar to this one. OUTSTANDING in every way.
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