Eric_ripert_onthelineA few years ago, my friend Eric Ripert asked me if I’d be interested in chronicling his restaurant from the inside, to show the true behind the scenes portrait of a four-star Manhattan restaurant.  I would have loved to but my living in Cleveland made it impractical.  He asked his friend Alan Richman, and that didn’t work out.  Eventually, he struck a deal with New York Times writer and editor Christine Muhlke and the two, along with their publisher Ann Bramson and a great design team, Helicopter, have produced a book, On the Line, that fulfills Eric’s initial conception.  And then some.  It’s truly a fascinating and honest (not self-promoting, though it does do that, nor self-congratulatory) portrait of a restaurant, with diagrams of the stations on the line, day-in-the-life-of timelines, portraits of key players from the kitchen to the business office, a list of cardinal sins to avoid in front-of-the-house service, excellent documentary and finished food photography.  The second half of the book is devoted to recipes.

This is must reading for anyone thinking of getting into the restaurant business, or looking to make theirs better, and I’d recommend it to anyone already fascinated by the inner gears of restaurants or any service business.  Eric and his team have done a terrific job.  And if you haven’t seen his website, aveceric, it’s very snazzy, beautifully produced and worth a few clicks.  Really impressive, all of it.


28 Wonderful responses to “On the Line”

  • Tags

    I hope you’re not carrying scissors, Michael. This is some pace you’re keeping up – traveling, speaking, blogging, writing.

  • casey

    I’m crazy about this book. I’ve always been a fan of Ripert — “A Return to Cooking” is one of my favorite books — and this new tome is superb. It would make a lovely holiday gift.I had it on my Amazon wish list for a while, but couldn’t wait so gifted it, with love from me to me.

  • ruhlman

    i don’t understand twitter either but i thought i’d give it a whirl. maybe if i get that iphone for xmas it will make more sense.

    tags, thanks for saying that. i’ve been trying to take this month off to recover and have been wondering why i still don’t have any time.

  • Arthur

    I have this book and it’s awesome! Eric was supposed to be in town (Toronto) this past Wednesday to promote the book but the event was cancelled, much to my chagrin.

  • Alinea at Home

    This is one of my favorite books this year. So glad you wrote about it. I love the size of the book, and I think the photography-to-copy ratio is near-perfect. Really, really well done.

  • sarah

    I wrote previously to say that this book was one of my favorites this year not knowing that you had been asked to help out with it. It is a great marriage of stories, photos and recipes–terrific. The one thing I love about is the “dinner party” concept. It really gives home cooks the chance to experiment with fun recipes, take cool photos and share with an online community about their experience. Really fun stuff.

  • Natalie Sztern

    i love books that let u take a quantum leap into another vein of life…yes i remember the television show which I loved just as much…

  • Mark MacLeod

    I love this book (I’ve read it cover-to-cover). I went to an event at Le Bernardin the night before it was publicly released and received a copy. It was really great to meet Chef Ripert. He was a great host.

  • Ann Handley

    So speaking of Twitter… @shelleyryan sent me here. I wouldn’t have known you had this blog otherwise. So therein lies some of the coolness of Twitter: it broadens your world about stuff that you didn’t know about, and deepens your knowledge about stuff you actually do know a bit about already. It’s a giant water cooler, and a great way to listen in on what folks are thinking about/care about. Check out what folks are saying about you on Twitter here, for example:

    But enough about Twitter… back to this post: I’m glad I found your blog, Michael!


  • Cameron S.

    I love this book as well, and try to go to Le Bernardin whenever I am in New York.

  • Chad Galiano

    It’s really interesting that the theme of the book coincides with the audio track on the kitchen portion of the restaurant website. It sounds like they set up a microphone in the kitchen on a busy night, and recorded the clatter of pots and dishes, the orders being shouted out, and the ‘yes, chef!’s being resonated by the line staff. Wish I would have thought of that idea first.

  • jscirish27

    Le Bernardin is the finest restaurant I have ever eaten at and Ripert is among the chefs I admire most. The food is amazingly pure and free from gimmickery etc… I can’t wait to read this book and hopefully get back there for a meal sometime soon . . .

  • kristin

    I really have enjoyed reading On the Line. Really interesting read especially if you don’t know what really goes on behind the scenes of a restaurant and especially when it comes to what makes a four star place like Le Bernardin run.

    I got on twitter because of Carol Blymire. It is her fault j/k kristin_71 is me.

  • kristin

    forgot to add the recipes in the back of On the Line are spectacular! I can’t wait to try them.

  • cherylk

    to ntsc: i went to cook eat fret and I’m sitting at my computer weeping. Thank you for posting that, off topic or not.

  • Marcy

    Thanks for the tip–I bought it and will look forward to reading it over Xmas break!

  • Deborah Dowd

    We are so fortunate to know a small farmer no more than an hour or so from our house who has only a few hogs. He sells us hams and the best pork sausage ever!

  • Max

    Really loved the book. Took some time to get it in Germany. Are there any other books with a similar fokus, i.e. really showing what is happening in the kitchen, how the stations look, what the cooks really do at their stations?
    Regards, Max