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Don’t “[e]xpect to be enchanted by the total lack of pretense,” as the cover jacket suggests: A Return to Cooking is entirely ostentatious. But, to be fair, that’s probably what happens anytime a four-star French chef puts his name on a cookbook. In this case, culinary artiste Eric Ripert is accompanied by a painter, a scribe, an assistant, and two photographers, so one might imagine the ridiculousness. Ripert—part owner of Le Bernardin in New York and former sous-chef at Jean-Louis in the Watergate—may make you wonder if he’s “light on his loafers,” as the text jokes, but his 330-page behemoth of a book is quite heavy. And, ultimately, it’s more of a feast for the eyes than a guide for your own grub-making. Recipes for dishes such as “Shiitake-Stuffed Squab with Coriander-Infused Jus” are interspersed with impressionist renderings of kitchen knives and candid close-ups of bare feet. Carry a fat wallet if you partake of Ripert’s five-course dinner and book rap, at 6:30 p.m. at the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Restaurant, 529 14th St. NW. $55. For reservations call (202) 662-7638. (Chris Shott)