Eric Ripert Serves White Truffles At Le Bernardin | Midtown, NYC

In tough times, Eric Ripert banks on the black truffle

In tough economic times, even star chefs have to cut back on exorbitant ingredients. But at Le Bernardin, chef Eric Ripert has found one way to keep luxury (and spirits) high during gloomy days, which is why he's declared 2009 "The Year of the Black Truffle."

Though it's still a decadent addition to any meal, the black truffle is less expensive than its white counterpart. Ripert recommends the Plantin brand's line of canned truffles, truffle juice and truffle oils. At home, he adds them to soups, sauces and vinaigrettes. For a most comforting dish, he tosses diced truffles into scrambled eggs. "People want small luxuries during stressful times," he says. "And truffles are a touch of luxury to be savored."

At Le Bernardin, Ripert's epicurean answer to the state of the world translates to dishes like crab with black-truffle sauce and a special all-truffle menu for Valentine's Day. And Ripert's not only making donations to your stomach: In addition to the generous amounts of leftover food he gives to City Harvest each night, Ripert is contributing a dollar from every meal Le Bernardin serves this year to the organization, plus another dollar from each restaurant-based sale of his new book, On the Line.

Le Bernardin, 155 W. 51st St. (at Seventh Ave.); 212-554-1515 or