“The more successful you become, the further you are taken from the work that made you a success in the first place, from what it was you most loved doing.” And so Eric Ripert, the chef of Le Bernadin, New York’s Mecca of seafood, takes a sabbatical from his kitchen and embarks on a journey to Puerto Rico, the Napa Valley, the Long Island shore, and the Vermont countryside, to become once more a “cook” for himself and his entourage of friends. The journey allows Ripert to celebrate local and seasonal produce and experiment with techniques, such as fireplace roasting, not available in a restaurant kitchen. Along the way Ripert combines 150 luscious recipes with mini-tutorials on technique. The book is accompanied by reproductions of exuberant paintings by Ripert’s friend, Columbian artist Valentino Cortazar.
A Return to Cooking
by Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlman
(Artisan, Nov 2002)
Hardcover, 330 pages
What inspired you to write this book?
Eric Ripert: I wanted to be free to cook without time limits - knowing that I could use all my instincts to be inspired by the landscape and the season.
How do you see your book being used?
Eric Ripert: First as an inspiration paged through at the coffee table or at bedtime. More importantly, in the kitchen because A Return to Cooking is both practical and technical.
What is your favorite food region? Why?
Eric Ripert: Provence - because I grew up there and it is very special, very Mediterranean, and still very unspoiled.
What do you enjoy most about cooking?
Eric Ripert: Cooking is relaxing and rewarding because I get to eat and perhaps share the fruits of my labor.
What did you learn in creating this book?
Eric Ripert: It confirmed to me that I am a very good cook—that I had not lost my creativity. Au contraire, I became more creative. I look forward to doing another book.
Any new projects?
Eric Ripert: Right now we are the consulting on the menu of Geisha. It is fun for me because the food is totally different from Le Bernardin and once more I can express myself in a new way.