Eric Ripert and his book 32 Yolks made me think about my own knife skills. And how pathetic they are. This enticing memoir, subtitled From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line, tells the story of his early life and career beginnings. It’s an enjoyable read, even when Ripert is talking about the challenges of being the step kid to an abusive man.

Mostly though, Ripert talks about food. Pastries. Country French. High level nouvelle cuisine. Lots and lots of food. Now I definitely want to go to France to dine—and soon!

I first heard of Eric Ripert because we watch Top Chef on Bravo. But his career obviously started long before that. And his love of good food was nurtured by family and friends. His early life sounds mostly idyllic, despite parental instability. His mother was a successful entrepreneur who came home after work to make full blown meals for her family. On the other hand, she had questionable taste in men.

Thankfully, Ripert had an early chef mentor who’s a quirky character. Then young foodie Eric goes to culinary skill to begin his training. But the real meat of the story comes when he starts working in Parisian restaurant kitchens.

He dispels every bit of potential glamour. The unending hours, physical labor, and constant criticism are more than most of us would endure. But Ripert persists, gaining skills from work and other unexpected sources.

My conclusions:

Ghostwritten by Veronica Chambers, this is an easy read. I particularly needed it in the midst of a string of depressing and challenging books. The food descriptions are blissful. I did, however, use Google translate often to determine what the oft-used French descriptions meant! That just added to the charm of this memoir, though.

Eric Ripert waxes poetic about the quality of food, and eating locally-sources, seasonal foods. He makes me appreciate every delicious restaurant meal I’ve eaten. I hope he’ll write another memoir to tell us about his experiences in America, since 32 Yolks ends with his departure from France. That will be another tasty book!