A 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.