The French know how to cook – this much we know. But French DNA isn’t enough to secure your reputation as one of the world’s best chefs, as culinary powerhouse Eric Ripert knows. It takes passion, dedication and long hours – essential ingredients Eric commits himself to fully. Having experienced cuisines in his hometown of Antibes and Andorra, a small country close to the Spanish border that Eric moved to as a child, it’s hardly surprising that the chef’s cooking is a wonderful fusion of influences. It is his innovation that snagged him jobs at legendary restaurants such as La Tour D’Argent and Jamin in Paris, Jean Louis at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, and now Le Bernardin in New York. It is here Eric remains, having snagged the restaurant countless awards and accolades with its mouthwatering menu. Now Eric is starring in his own television show, Avec Eric, which aims to inspire others to get creative in the kitchen. Not content with watching him on-screen, Hg2 catches up with the man in person.
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Are you a hedonist? I do not like the word – to me has a negative connotation, I don’t know why. However, as a chef I cannot deny that I have a lot of fun cooking and for me it is a very sensual experience. Eating and drinking – in moderation, of course – brings a lot of pleasure.
There are plenty of chefs out there. Why do you think you’ve become so well-known, and what marks you out from the crowd? This shouldn’t be a question for me to answer. I have no idea. I focus on my work. I’m very passionate, hardworking and dedicated. I have very high standards and I believe I am very lucky.
What defines your cooking style? Using great ingredients and through the process of cooking elevating them with a very precise yet simple approach.
If you were a city, which one would you be and why? Why would I limit myself to being one city? I am New York and Paris, Barcelona and Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and San Juan, Puerto Rico and Cuzco, Peru and San Francisco, Los Angeles and many more.
Favourite city to live in? New York.
Favourite city to holiday in? It changes every year but during Christmas holidays, New York is pretty cool.
Food? Everything from pizza to black truffles.
Drink? Great Bordeaux.
Restaurant? There are so many of them – it’s not fair for me to choose only one. It also depends on my mood, from casual, ethnic places to very upscale restaurants.
Hotel? Ritz-Carlton is my favorite hotel group – but I may be biased as I have three restaurants at Ritz-Carlton hotels!
Shop? I love to shop everywhere, but malls and mega-supermarkets.
Club? Unfortunately, I just have very vague memories of the last time I went out to dance at a club.
You have books and a reality show under your belt; what’s next for you? I have three books and have appeared on a reality show called Top Chef as judge. My own show, however, is on National Public Television and is an inspirational travel and cooking programme. What’s next? Hopefully Season Two of my show, Avec Eric, in Asia.