Ripert on Bourdain

May 19, 2010|By Rob Kasper, The Baltimore Sun

Eric Ripert laughs when he answers questions about the differences between him and Anthony Bourdain. The two will appear Saturday night at the Hippodrome.

Bourdain, who was born in New York in 1956, has described the American restaurant kitchens where he trained as lairs of lusty cooks who play by their own rules. Ripert, who was born in France in 1965 and trained there, says he comes from a different tradition.

"In the kitchen where I worked, there was discipline, almost like a paramilitary organization," Ripert says. "I have never seen a bunch of pirates doing whatever they want to do. That is not my world."

Bourdain acknowledges that he engages in hyperbole and that he often offends.

Ripert says, "I am diplomatic. I have less extreme views than him."

Bourdain has praised the "lake trout," or deep-fried whiting sandwich, he ate at The Roost in Baltimore as quintessential regional American fare.

Ripert says his three-star New York restaurant does not serve such fish. "At Le Bernardin, we are 100 percent seafood from the sea, not from lakes and rivers. No lake trout."

Bourdain says he sees an upswing in the number of restaurant chefs serving organ meats, a growth in what he calls "the Fergus Henderson guts mafia," a reference to the acclaimed British chef who has written the cookbook "Nose to Tail Eating" (Bourdain wrote its introduction).

Ripert does not see a surge. "There have always been restaurants that do that. But I don't see more restaurants doing that. I see more bistro food, but not necessarily restaurants dedicated to serving offal."

Ripert says that even though he is appearing this summer as a judge on the popular "Top Chef" television show (the new season, focusing on D.C., begins June 16 on Bravo), he is not as skilled a showman as Bourdain. Yet he says he is "learning from the master," and adds, "I am better at cooking."

"Tony and I have a good dynamic. We very often disagree. We very often have different points of view. But we remain friends."

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