Eric Ripert is the mild-mannered mastermind behind Le Bernardin — one of New York City’s longest-running three-Michelin-starred restaurants. He recently sat down for an interview with LLNYC. Here is what we learned.
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1. “Inspiration” is Ripert’s favorite word, and he looks for inspiration in everything. E.g.: a shipment of wild morels from the Himalayas.
2. He’s a huge Pink Floyd fan. Just ask author Jay McInerney, who recalls a night where Roger Waters of the band was among his dinner guests.
“I had no idea the Eric was an insane Pink Floyd fan, nor that Roger was a huge Le Bernardin fan,” McInerney chuckles. “I ended up facilitating this bromance. It was this serendipitous encounter, and they’ve since become good buddies.”
3. He is a dedicated Buddhist, and he says cooking for the Dalai Lama most remarkable moments of his life.\
4. But there is no room in his kitchen for religion or politics. “If Trump comes to the restaurant, we will cook for Trump, just like we would cook for Clinton,” he says. “Are we star-struck by our guests? No.”
5. His early restaurant jobs were traumatizing. “Ripert had paid his dues at other restaurants working under sadomasochistic chefs like Joël Robuchon — known for forcing his team to cook his dog’s dinner each night and punishing them if his dog did not finish the meal.”
6. So was his parents’ divorce.
“Divorce has consequences for children. I want people to look at it and go, ‘Wow, maybe before I divorce I should think twice..”
7. Anthony Bourdain is his partner in crime.
8. Unlike a lot of celebrity chefs, you’re likely to find Ripert in his kitchen when you visit Le Bernardin.
9. He’s not worried about money. “I am very happy with the balance that I have created in my life. I spend time with the restaurant, my family and with myself, which is very important for me,” he says. “The money aspect doesn’t have an impact on me […] I’m not a chef for the money. I do not cook for the money. I don’t write books for the money. I don’t go on TV for money.
10. Above all else, he values privacy.
“My private life, I do not share that with the press. No photos of my son, and no one has access to my house or my apartment,” he says, noting that he has lost major publicity for refusing to open up his home. “My family life is not to be shared with people. I feel there is a danger if you let the media come in […] suddenly you are selling yourself. It’s just a principle. It’s my little secret garden.”