Hello, my name is Eric Ripert, and I am the chef and owner of Le Bernardin restaurant in New York. I'm very excited to have the opportunity to write my own Wine Spectator guest blog, and look forward to sharing ideas with you throughout the next month.
I'll begin by giving you a bit of my personal and professional history. As a child, I had a passion for food that bordered on gluttony, and I was lucky to have a mother and a grandmother who were wonderful cooks. I spent a great deal of time by their sides, which solidified my love of food and cooking. And, fortunately, I was a terrible student and needed to be oriented toward a professional sort of school—I chose culinary school. At age 15 I left home, which at that point was Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France. (I was actually born in Antibes, France, but my family moved to Andorra when I was 10 years old.)
I attended culinary school in the French town of Perpignan. After two years of study, in 1982, I moved to Paris to start my first real professional restaurant job, at La Tour d’Argent, the physical site of which has been some sort of restaurant since 1582. I arrived just as the restaurant was celebrating its 400th anniversary, under the direction of Dominque Bouchet. I felt lucky to be a part of the restaurant at such a point in its history, but, as the youngest one on the team, I was the weak link. I struggled a lot, and my knife skills were mediocre at best. During the afternoon break, I would run home to practice on vegetables. I worked on the restaurant's fish station, and fortunately chef Maurice Guilloüet took me under his wing. Maurice eventually left La Tour d’Argent to go to work for Joël Robuchon at Jamin, and after about a year, I joined him.
At Jamin, I managed the garde manger, or cold appetizer station. Although I'd learned the basics of classic cuisine at La Tour d’Argent, I hadn't yet learned, the hard way, what perfection in cooking meant. Joël Robuchon is perhaps the most perfectionist of all chefs in the world.
In 1985, I left to complete my military duties. I was made a mess hall chef, but the ingredients we had to work with were so disgusting that, with the help of my colonel, I was transferred to a job as a waiter in the officers’ hall. At the conclusion of my military service, I returned to Jamin, this time on the fish station. I learned a great deal about technique in cooking fish and, of course, I learned discipline.
I had always dreamed of going to the United States, and after a few more years in Paris, chef Robuchon recommended me for a position at the late, great Jean-Louis Palladin's restaurant at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. I soon became Palladin's sous chef, and developed a strong friendship with him. He remains an enduring influence on my life and my work, having taught me a great deal about creativity and technique, especially with regard to meat and game. I eventually left D.C. for New York, where I worked briefly for David Bouley, until Palladin recommended me for a new job, at Le Bernardin.
Finally, on June 10, 1991, at precisely 7:40 a.m.—I remember the moment to this day—I began at Le Bernardin, where I became the chef de cuisine under Gilbert Le Coze. In 1994, after Gilbert's untimely death, I took full control of the kitchen, where I remain to this day.
So this is where I come from as a chef. As I write this guest blog over the next several weeks, I look forward to your questions and comments and, most of all, to the discussion of wine.
Yaron Zakai Or — Israel — February 12, 2007 3:24pm ET
Farhana Haque — Queens, NY — February 12, 2007 3:30pm ET
Gregory Windrem — New Jersey — February 12, 2007 3:44pm ET
Charles P Daniels — February 12, 2007 4:35pm ET
Hoyt Hill Jr — Nashville, TN — February 12, 2007 4:44pm ET
Kirk R Grant — Ellsworth, ME — February 12, 2007 6:22pm ET
Richard S Levine — St Louis MO — February 12, 2007 10:48pm ET
Guest Guest — New York — February 13, 2007 5:38pm ET
Guest Guest — New York — February 13, 2007 5:40pm ET
Eric Ripert — New York — February 13, 2007 6:02pm ET
Eric Ripert — New York — February 13, 2007 6:03pm ET
Kevin Smith — Sunshine State — February 14, 2007 11:44pm ET
Helen Onserud — NYC — February 18, 2007 2:24pm ET
Eric Ripert — New York — February 20, 2007 6:53pm ET
Robert Boyle — California — February 21, 2007 6:43pm ET
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