Why Eric Ripert Prefers Not To Cook With Farm-Raised Seafood

Eric Ripert's restaurant Le Bernardin mesmerizes with its innovative seafood and vegetarian dishes. Open for decades, the establishment emphasizes high-quality produce through refined technique — work that has resulted in accolades like three Michelin stars and staple appearances on the 50 Best list.

Since it's all reliant on the very best ingredients, no surprise the chef has thoughtful considerations on the sourcing of his seafood. Generally, chef Ripert prefers wild-caught for several reasons. Firstly, the flavor is better; the creatures consume their natural diet in a wild ecosystem. Oftentimes, farms optimize their feed for cost performance, which is reflected in the final product.

Additionally, farm-raised fish are more vulnerable to disease, which causes producers to utilize antibiotics, as well as hormones for stimulating growth — not-so-savory additions. Nevertheless, Ripert notes in his informative cookbook, "Seafood Simple" that it's a complex issue, with not all farms created equal. Plus, an underlying concern is sustainability, which affects both sources. 

Eric Ripert favors sustainably-sourced wild-caught fish

In addition to the flavor factor, wild-caught fish can also be more dependably sustainable, notes Eric Ripert. The best operations bring in smaller batch catches and offer support to local businesses. Nevertheless, it always pays off to be informed about the supply chain. 

Firstly, any fish that are endangered in their environment are off the table. It's also vital to ask the fishmonger about the exact fishing procedures — the type of boat (day boat or long-liner, for example), catch volumes, and geographical origins. Paying attention to detail ensures that you get the highest quality, and that you're not buying fish that's environmentally destructive.

Some wild-caught operations aren't sustainable, and conversely, some farming operations are ethical. Especially since farming is often more economically viable, farmed fish isn't completely off Ripert's table. In such a complex issue, being thoughtful and informed regarding every selection is paramount. And in turn, such precise consideration helps Eric Ripert's dishes stand out.