Talking Food Critics, Ethnic Influence and Chef Instability in Dallas with Eric Ripert
This Friday at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert will deliver an interactive performance discussing the industry that has granted them stardom. Most of the press coverage about the show has focused on Bourdain, but while Ripert takes a quieter approach to life his story is no less interesting, especially if you're curious about craftsmanship and cooking.
Ripert's diligence has certainly paid off. His New York City restaurant Le Bernardin has earned four stars from The New York Times since 1986, longer than any other restaurant covered by the paper. I spoke with him about what it takes to ensure consistently flawless cooking over decades, the importance of critics in a modern day dining culture, and some guy called Anthony Bourdain.
You reopened a newly remodeled dining room just over a year ago. How did things go with Hurricane Sandy?
We got very lucky. As you know Downtown got very damaged. They have no electricity still. Many don't have any water. As soon as you pass midtown, though, it's like a normal city.
So you weren't impacted at all?
Well, we closed for two days, and then we reopened Wednesday of that week. So we were impacted in the sense that we closed, but no damage.
What about your suppliers for fish?
No. The boats came on Monday to the harbor in Maine, and the fish was very fresh. The north wasn't damaged by the hurricane, so all the fish from Canada and the fish from far away in the Atlantic was delivered. The fish from Florida hasn't been affected at all.
OK, so how many of these shows have you done with Anthony?
Good and Evil?
Good and Evil we've done 15 or 16. Something like that.
Are you the good guy or the bad one?
That's a good question. I'm going to tell you the way the show works. We start by roasting each other, so when Tony is roasting me, he does the best to make me look like the bad guy. Then I return the favor and roast him as well and obviously, I make him look like the bad guy. That's to break the ice and make everyone laugh, and we don't take each other too seriously and so on.
And then we sit down and talk about serious issues like GMO or over-fishing. We give advice for people who want to come into the industry. We talk about many topics that are more serious, obviously, and then we open up to question and answer, which is very interactive.
At the end of the day there's no such a thing as good and evil. He's not totally evil, and I'm not very good. (Laughs)
Have any new digs set up for Anthony?