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On the Line Hardcover – November 1, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A behind-the-scenes look at the famed New York restaurant Le Bernardin, this stunning and informative book takes readers into the inner sanctum, where they view firsthand the blend of science and artistry that makes this Michelin three-star eatery legendary. Chef Ripert and New York Times writer Muhlke recount the restaurants history, from its founding in 1986 by Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze, through Riperts joining the team in 1991, to the present day. This thorough guide to how the restaurant operates teaches about various kitchen stations, tools of the trade, key personnel and their duties, how new dishes are born and what its like to spend a night on the line. Great attention is also paid to the diners experience, evidenced by the restaurants 129 Cardinal Sins (from chipped glassware to servers without a sense of humor). Recipes include ultrarare charred sea scallops with smoked sea salt; pan-roasted monkfish with truffled potato foam and red wine–brandy sauce; and wild Alaskan salmon, morels and spring vegetables in a wild mushroom pot-au-feu. A huge treat for industry insiders, fans of Le Bernardin and foodies everywhere, this book is a must-have for anyone with a passion for food. (Dec.)
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Review

Starred Review: "A behind-the-scenes look at the famed New York restaurant Le Bernardin, this stunning and informative book takes readers into the inner sanctum, where they view firsthand the blend of science and artistry that makes this Michelin three-star eatery legendary. Chef Ripert and New York Times writer Muhlke recount the restaurant's history, from its founding in 1986 by Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze, through Ripert's joining the team in 1991, to the present day. This thorough guide to how the restaurant operates teaches about various kitchen stations, tools of the trade, key personnel and their duties, how new dishes are born and what it's like to spend a night "on the line." Great attention is also paid to the diner's experience, evidenced by the restaurant's "129 Cardinal Sins" (from chipped glassware to servers without a sense of humor). Recipes include ultrarare charred sea scallops with smoked sea salt; pan-roasted monkfish with truffled potato foam and red wine–brandy sauce; and wild Alaskan salmon, morels and spring vegetables in a wild mushroom pot-au-feu. A huge treat for industry insiders, fans of Le Bernardin and foodies everywhere, this book is a must-have for anyone with a passion for food." (Dec.) - Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Artisan (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579653693
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579653699
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1.1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
ATTENTION: if you are a big fan of 30 Minute Meals or Semi-homemade Cooking, this is not a book for you. If you only go to chain restaurants that call each location a "store," this is not a book for you. If you're the sort of person for whom food is akin to fuel and you don't view eating as an aesthetic experience, this is not a book for you.

Who IS this book for, then?

1) Armchair chefs
Fans of inside-the-restaurant-business books, such as Kitchen Confidential (Bourdain) and The Soul of a Chef (Ruhlman), will enjoy reading about the history and personalities behind Le Bernardin. On The Line is written in a very matter of fact style though, so don't expect anything like the gonzo rants of Bourdain or the hushed and reverential tone of Ruhlman.

2) Anybody interested in how a top-end restaurant operates
Most of On The Line is devoted to an in-depth discussion of the daily operations at Le Bernardin. Comprehensive descriptions of each kitchen station, detailed run downs of how dishes are prepared during service, and a fascinating overview of the business side are highlights of the book. And unlike most books written by chefs, the focus is on the entire restaurant staff, not just the chef, which helps reinforce how running a restaurant is truly a team effort.

3) Accomplished or ambitious home cooks
While On The Line includes a selection of recipes, they are aspirational in that they are scaled down renditions of highly refined and luxurious restaurant cooking.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Because it is not simply a cookbook, there are two good reasons to buy this book. The first, because half the book contains recipes, is because you want to learn how to make some of Le Bernardin's famous dishes. The second is because you are curious how a top restaurant staff makes and serves its food. For either or both of those reasons, this is a fascinating book.

I got the book for the second reason. I love reality cooking shows like Top Chef and Hells's Kitchen for the look they provide inside the world of a restaurant chef. I always wonder what it would be like to cook at that level. After reading the book, I can see those TV programs barely scratch the surface. The reality of cooking and serving food of top restaurant quality is so much more involved and labor-intensive than I dreamed it would be.

Le Bernardin is a famous restaurant in New York City that has achieved a 4 star rating from the New York Times and a 3 star (out of 3 tops) Michelin rating. Eric Ripert is the chef and part owner. The restaurant opened while I was living in NYC, but I never ate there. From the name I guessed it was a fancy French restaurant and assumed the menu was full of classic French food (whatever that might be). In fact, the menu is almost exclusively fish and seafood and the recipes are inventive and unusual.

Most of the first half of the book is about the restaurant, starting with the history of both the restaurant and chef Ripert. The next part is about the kitchen, starting with an overview of the various cooks' roles, the kitchen layout and stations, and a glossary of "cook speak.
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Format: Hardcover
I recently acquired a copy of this book and found it a tantalizingly unique approach to the genre of 'restaurant cookbook'. Why ? Because it is about the care and tendering of a restaurant -Le Bernadin - which author ( and Executive Chef and co-owner ) Eric Ripert so clearly loves and fusses over like a lover.

It is not, like so many other celebrity chefs books, about the chef or his ego or his prowess or his food 'enlightenment', but refreshingly, about the impeccably demanding and non-stop daily efforts that owners Maguy LeCose and Eric Ripert demand of themselves and their staff in order to keep this high-maintenance restaurant operating at top level.

It is also a behind the scenes look at the hectic yet controlled and precise daily operations of a restaurant of this caliber located in the most hectic of American cities, New York City. As readers, we become privy to information such as the staff hierarchy in the kitchen and dining room, the slang-uage of the kitchen, and to the job of the porter, the person in charge of food deliveries.

In a restaurant world filled with 'good-enough', un-skilled and un-trained cooks and slacking standards ( i.e. the type of dreadful restaurants that Gordon Ramsey wrangles with on his television program Kitchen Nightmares ) it is refreshing to peer into the inner workings of a Eurocentric, Michelin star-rated establishment that constantly polishes its dedication to excellence and the discipline of cooking. Be reassured that here, everything is as it should be.
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