Chef Eric Ripert Takes THR’s Taste Test

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Eric Ripert

The acclaimed chef at New York City lodestar Le Bernardin, whose PBS food-and-travel show 'Avec Eric' debuts on the Cooking Channel on Saturday, talks black truffles, brains, dark chocolate and good Bordeaux.

Heavily accented French chef Eric Ripert — the classically trained kitchen king behind Manhattan's Michelin-three-starred Le Bernardin and occasional odd-couple TV traveling companion of BFF Anthony Bourdain (whom he calls "the Indiana Jones of the chefs, always on an adventure") — has in its third season taken his own PBS production, Avec Eric, to the Cooking Channel. The 12-episode food-and-travel series, which spans Wales to Korea's demilitarized zone, premieres Feb. 28.

"The show is a reflection of my lifestyle," he says. "As a chef I'm in the kitchen, but to be inspired, I travel. The show is basically documenting what I do to be inspired — interacting with other cultures and locations." Case in point: "My trip to Australia [for this season] definitely had an impact on what we're preparing in the kitchen here at Le Bernardin for spring."

ERIC RIPERT'S THR TASTE TEST

Current Fixation
"Black truffles. I love them to the point of obsession. When they are in season, I basically eat them every day at Le Bernardin."

Known for Cooking
"Fish. As Le Bernardin is a seafood restaurant, it makes up the majority of what I cook."

Destination Dinner
"If price is no object, I would get a private jet to Japan and visit all the kaiseki places in Kyoto and then I would make a stop in Tokyo and eat the best sushi."

Go-To Take-Out
"Usually I don't do take-out; I just cook at home. But if I'm feeling lazy, I'll order sushi."

Adventurous Bite
"I recently visited Australia — an amazing country with warm, spring weather every day and fun, welcoming people and really great food. When I was there, I tried crocodile, kangaroo and lots of other interesting things, but croc and 'roo were probably the most adventurous things I have eaten in a while!"

Simply Won't Eat
"Brains. I can't do it — I'm traumatized from a childhood experience!"

Favorite Snack
"Dark chocolate — good dark chocolate. I have several pieces every day."

Dietary Regimen
"I don't have one — I don't believe in having to be regimented, and while I enjoy everything, I do it in moderation."

Pet Peeve
"I really don't like when I see customers be rude to staff, or when they are overly picky with what's on the menu."

Embarrassing Experience
"In my childhood years, my parents would take me out to restaurants and friends' houses who were entertaining. … I am sorry to say on several occasions, I was caught hiding food I did not like in whatever little spot I could find — plant pots, vases, sofas, bookshelves. … When I think of those moments, I cringe at how embarrassing it was for my parents!"

Guilty Pleasure
"I have no guilty pleasure — it's a strange concept to me. Everything I eat is a pleasure that I take the time to enjoy, and I don't feel bad about it!"

Last Meal
"Black truffles, bread, olive oil, salt and some good Bordeaux."

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