World Chefs: For Ripert, the fish is the star of the plate

Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:40am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eric Ripert, executive chef of Le Bernardin, says his culinary philosophy is summed up in the mantra he created for himself and the staff of his celebrated seafood restaurant: the fish is the star of the plate.

"It means you don't cook with the fish, you cook for the fish," said Ripert. "You apply the right technique and ingredients to elevate the fish."

Ripert, who was born in Antibes, France, has been at the helm of Le Bernardin, a New York institution, since 1994. The restaurant holds three Michelin stars and recently ranked 19 on Restaurant Magazine's 2012 list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants.

Ripert, 47, is also the author of four cookbooks, a regular guest judge on the cable TV show "Top Chef", and the host of his own show, "Avec Eric", on public television.

He also chairs City Harvest, a food rescue organization dedicated to feeding the city's hungry.

He spoke to Reuters about balancing tradition and innovation at Le Bernardin, and the passion that drives his many projects.

Q: Did you always want to be a chef?

A: I always had passion for good eating and being in a kitchen. My grandmother, mother and aunts were excellent cooks and everybody was always surrounding me, and spoiling me, with good food. At the very young age of 15 I decided to become a chef and went to culinary school in Perpignan.   Continued...

Eric Ripert, executive chef of Le Bernardin, poses for a photo in New York October 2010. REUTERS/Nigel Parry