Pages Navigation Menu
Categories Navigation Menu

Q & A with Eric Ripert

Chef in whites casual.JPGIf you want to know how to cook a fish, ask Eric Ripert.   If you don’t cook, you should consider visiting Le Bernardin, one of the most  regarded seafood restaurants in the world.  Born in Antibes, France, Ripert attended culinary school at age 15, followed by cooking stints in Paris.  Ripert worked the fish station for Jean-Louis Palladin, Joel Robuchon and David Bouley before Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze hired him away as a chef at Le Bernardin.   At the age of 29, Ripert earned four stars from the New York Times and has managed to maintain them for over twelve years.   Ripert recently launched his own blog, Avec Eric, a preview of his upcoming PBS television show.  Until then, you can sample his inspired cooking at Le Bernardin.  On the menu for fall, crispy black bass with braised celery and iberico ham-green peppercorn sauce as well as a seared blue fin tuna with a parmesan crispy, sundried tomato and black olive oil.


What did you want to be when you grew up?
A chef or a forest ranger.  I grew up in the mountains in Europe.

What was your first job in food and what did you learn?
La Tour D’Argent in Paris.  I was only seventeen years old when I started cooking.   I was very passionate about eating, but I had no idea that cooking was hard work. 

How did you end up specializing in seafood?
I always ended up working the fish station.  I worked the fish station at Jean Louis in Washington D.C., and then at Bouley.  I liked it.  You need to be a good technician.  I love how very delicate fish is, you have to treat it in a very subtle way.   At Le Bernardin, fish is always the star of the plate.

Do you fish?
I’m not a good fisherman.  I went to the lakes and caught trout when I was young, then cooked it on location.  I’m good at cooking it, not catching it.

What’s the secret to getting the best fish in the city?  Is there a pecking order of who gets first dibs (so to speak)?
Whatever they say, that’s your price.  That’s the secret.  And always pay right away.  Never even ask how much it costs.   Le Bernardin has had strong connections with merchants since the restaurant opened.  Gilbert Le Coze had a close friendship with someone at the market.    

Who’s your fish supplier in New York?  And more importantly, where can I get the best fish?
Blue Ribbon Fish Co.  But the supply of superior fish is very small.  We spend millions of dollars a year on fish.   My fish in truck two in the morning.  We also have a great guy in Portland Maine who sells us lobster, monkfish, cod, skate, and crab.

You’ve managed to run a four-star kitchen over ten years.  What’s your philosophy to success in the kitchen?

Our kitchen is very civilized.  There’s no yelling in the kitchen.  We have fun.  When the kitchen is miserable, the clients can taste it.  When the kitchen is happy, it’s contagious.  My life is very peaceful.  I don’t feel compelled to compete.

What is your favorite fish to cook with?
Halibut.  It’s an elegant fish.  I love the silky texture and refined flavors.  I

What is your favorite dish on the menu right now?
The red snapper in a tomato consomme.

What is your least favorite dish on the menu (and yes, you must pick one)?

What is your least favorite dish on the menu (and yes, you must pick one)?
The skate.  I have a slight allergy, so it makes my lips tingle.

You have a reputation for pairing fish and meat.  What’s the connection for you and where do you get the inspiration for each dish?  
I have something on the menu right now called, “Surf & Turf.”  It’s kobe beef and escolar.  They have a similiar texture.  I think kobe beef is a delicate meat counterpart to fish.  Monkfish also likes meat.  It’s a masculine fish and meat brings earthy flavors to the fish without overwhelming it.  But meat is never the focus.

Not only does the kitchen refuse to serve endangered species of fish, but your tasting menu also features the first sustainably raised Japanese Blue Fin Tuna in the world.   What inspired your eco-friendly practices?
We’re very cautious about what fish we serve at Le Bernardin.  We list all the endangered species that we don’t serve on the menu.  We try to educate people, without being a party pooper about it.

Do you ever think about moving back to Europe?  
I love New York City.  There’s a different dynamic in NYC kitchens.  In Europe, whoever survives will be stronger.  It’s more about humiliation.  Here, it’s about positive reinforcement, less about beating up people.

Other than Le Bernardin, what is your favorite restaurant in the city?

Any new projects on the horizon? Spill the beans…
I have a blog called Avec Eric, where I try to show people how easy it is to cook with fish.  I also have a series on PBS, where I travel to places that inspire me and cook what I find.  We also have a cookbook coming out titled “On The Line,” which I’m very excited about.

Le Bernardin
Address: 155 West 51st St., nr. Seventh Ave.
Phone: (212)554-1515
Official Website 


  1. It’s nearly impossible to find educated people in this particular subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!

  2. I got this web site from my friend who informed me about this site and at the moment this time I am browsing this web page and reading very
    informative posts at this time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *