Welcome to The Tastemakers, a series in which we chat with the most talented, connected and influential people in the world of food and drink.
"I learned to cook at a young age, not because I had a passion for cooking, but because I had a passion for eating," Eric Ripert admits.
The beloved French chef, who attended culinary school at the age of 15 and worked in the restaurants of Paris at age 17, moved to the U.S. in 1989 to pursue his culinary career. Today, Ripert is the chef and owner of legendary New York restaurant Le Bernardin, where he holds the maximum three Michelin stars and four stars from The New York Times. He has also starred in his own food and travel series called Avec Eric.
We chatted with Ripert about his experiences in the food industry, his love for culture and travel, and the advice he'd give all young chefs.
What's the most exciting thing you've worked on in the last year?
"I'll tell you, there's never a dull moment at Le Bernardin. I'm still there every day for lunch and dinner, and I love being there. But I was also finishing my memoir this year, which has been very exciting for me."
How has the New York restaurant scene changed since you started here?
"So much has changed. First of all, we can find amazing products in New York now, and that wasn't the case in the 90s. And now there's so much talent coming from all of the planet to cook here, making incredible cuisine from all different areas of the world. You can have any kind of food you want in New York now."
Which dish that's currently on your menu are you most proud of?
"Lately, I've been very happy with the lobster we're serving in lemongrass and kaffir lime broth. I think it's delicious, but I'm biased, of course."
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What has your experience been like with food television?
"I always enjoy it, because it gives me an opportunity to discover a lot of new cultures and travel to new places I wouldn't normally visit. I really try to be inspirational and share what I discover with others, and TV is a great platform for me to do that."
What's a city you'd travel to just for the food?
"Tokyo. I've been there a few times, and it's such an interesting city. But, I think you really need to be introduced by a local to fully discover it."
What's the best part about working in the food industry?
"I love the creativity and the craftsmanship of it. And I love being with the team and working with them to create an experience for our visitors. At the end of the day, it's very rewarding to see our customers leave the restaurant with a smile on their face."
Who are a few people you admire in the food industry?
What advice do you have for young chefs who are just getting their start?
"It's very simple, really: Be patient, work hard and be humble. It's going take a long time, so don't be too greedy or look for the money or the fame right away. If you go into this wanting to be rich, you're never going to make it."
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