Published by Random House on May 17, 2016
Source: Amazon Vine
For readers of Jacques Pépin’s The Apprentice and Marcus Samuelsson’s Yes, Chef, here is the coming-of-age story of a true French chef and international culinary icon. Before he earned three Michelin stars at Le Bernardin, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef, or became a regular guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, and even before he knew how to make a proper omelet, Eric Ripert was a young boy in the South of France who felt that his world had come to an end. The only place Eric felt at home was in the kitchen. His desire to not only cook, but to become the best would lead him into some of the most celebrated and demanding restaurants in Paris.
I first saw Eric Ripert on Top Chef, and was instantly intrigued by his mastery of fish as well as his calm, cool personality. I immediately requested the book on Le Bernardin, where Ripert is head chef, from my local library and was entranced even though I don’t like fish. Anyway, all of this led me to thinking Eric Ripert’s memoir would be just as interesting to me.
32 YOLKS starts with Ripert’s difficult childhood, where a love of food was one of the only good things in his life. His parents divorced when he was young, his stepfather was a beast, and Ripert understandably had anger issues. Although he always loved food, he wasn’t encouraged to be in the kitchen — it wasn’t a boy’s place. Eventually, he started culinary school, and then his first job in a kitchen, but things just got harder from there.
32 YOLKS gives a good look inside the kitchens of 1980s France, where some chefs ruled by intimidation and some by fear. It was interesting, to see the difference between La Tour d’Argent and Jamin: how the brigade worked, the head chef’s ruling style, how the dishes were created, etc, as well as the effect of everything on Ripert.
Ripert’s time in the brigade at La Tour d’Argent and Jamin was the best part of the book for me. I found his stories about his childhood somewhat disjointed, but they almost all did have something to do with food. But 32 YOLKS ended just when it really got going for me — when Ripert went to America for his first job there. I expected that the book would go further, to talk about how Ripert started at Le Bernardin, but it ends just as he gets on the plane. I don’t know if the publisher is planning a second book for the next part of Ripert’s journey, but I feel like 32 YOLKS ended too early.
Socialize with the author: