Reality Bites: Behind the Scenes With Chef Eric Ripert

A new tome serves up a behind-the-scenes look at Chef Eric Ripert¿s famed kitchen at Le Bernardin.

A new tome serves up a behind-the-scenes look at Chef Eric Ripert8217s famed kitchen at Le Bernardin

A new tome serves up a behind-the-scenes look at Chef Eric Ripert’s famed kitchen at Le Bernardin.

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Scoop issue 09/29/2008
Eric Ripert’s cookbooks are typically sophisticated, glossy and somewhat intimidating—not unlike the restaurant he runs, the critically esteemed Le Bernardin in New York. But with his latest tome, On the Line, Ripert lifts the curtain to reveal how perfection is achieved. It’s Bernardin behind the scenes: a reality show in 10-point type instead of eight-millimeter.

“We share with the reader how we motivate the staff,” Ripert says. “I don’t want to ignore what they do. Those guys deserve recognition.”

Writer Christine Muhlke was given full access to Ripert and his staff of 140 to document how a four-star restaurant operates. “I didn’t want a romantic book where everything’s perfect, we all love each other,” says Ripert. “I never told  the staff what to say, or what not to say. But then I read some of the interviews and it was like, f--k you, f--k them, f--k that. We erased the f--ks.”

Here, Ripert discusses why he brought his staff into the spotlight and his newfound hobby: blogging.

WWDScoop: How often are you actually working in the restaurant?
Eric Ripert: I’m here five days a week, but I take my four weeks’ vacation.

WWDScoop: So many of your peers are criticized for spending their time away from the kitchen.
E.R: I’m not judgmental of what they do, or don’t do. I’m used to the kitchen. It is obvious that I’m not peeling every carrot; I’m not cooking every morsel of fish on your plate. It’s a very naïve idea to think that the chef is cooking  everything, and, on top of it, is irreplaceable. That would mean that basically he is the only genius, and there are idiots all around him, which doesn’t make sense.

WWDScoop: You must consider your current staff pretty remarkable to immortalize them like this.
E.R.: Those guys, the chefs and executive chef, executive sous chefs, they have 15, 16 years with us. The associate chef has been here 20 years—it’s longer than I’ve been here. We have a team that is passionate and motivated, qualified, obviously, and I just thought it was the right time.

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