Talking at the Pass: Chefs Eric Ripert and Jennifer Carroll

Introducing a new series where mentors and their now independently successful disciples reunite to chat about their time together and what they learned from each other. Our first installment features celebrated chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin and Jennifer Carroll, a breakout star on Top Chef and the chef-partner of Requin.

Eric Ripert and Jennifer Carroll

Eric, what was your first impression of Jennifer?

Eric Ripert: When we hired Jen in 2003, we were impressed with her personality, her skills, her motivation, and passion to learn. At that very young age, she had her own vision of opening a restaurant and doing something on her own one day. So, we were very impressed by that drive.

Jennifer Carroll: I wanted to learn from the best and work at the best place possible. I was all about seafood, so the best and only place for me to go was Le Bernardin. I walked in off the street and dropped my résumé off. They called me to come in for a stage. I was so nervous and excited at the same time. It’s very intimidating walking into that kitchen. There are 40 cooks, and everyone is working and moving. When Eric came in and I got to meet him, I totally froze. It was something I was looking forward to for so many years. I can’t even put into words how much that day and that meeting changed my life.

Eric, do you remember a pivotal moment when you saw the depth of her talent and what her true potential might be?

ER: At Le Bernardin, everybody starts on the cold side of the kitchen and then you move around to our many stations. Then we choose the best staffer overall to become the saucier, which is a very difficult task. We were impressed with Jen’s qualities of leadership, though we hadn’t asked her to be a leader, so we gave her the position. She did a fantastic job on the sauce. Very impressive. I believe she was the first female saucier in our kitchen, and that’s a big deal, because it’s a position of power and leadership. Then we mentored Jen to be a good sous chef. At that time, we had the opportunity to open a restaurant in Philadelphia, 10 Arts Bistro [Which is now closed – ed.]. Jen was performing so well that I right away thought, “We are going to ask her if she would take that position,” because she got respect from her team. Respect is not something that can be given. The team is very tough in the kitchen. If you make mistakes and don’t know what you’re talking about, you won’t get respect, especially from older employees. But Jen earned that respect from them.

What was it like for you, Jen, when Eric asked you to head up 10 Arts Bistro?

JC: Each week, Eric and I would have a meeting. We would talk about life, goals, and the future. This meeting when Eric brought it up, I was definitely taken aback and shocked. I was not prepared to hear that. I didn’t think it would be happening at that meeting.

When Jen was going on to Top Chef, did you have reservations about her doing it or did you encourage her?Continue Reading

Live the Fantasy: 17 Chefs Share Their Dream Diners

As diners, we spend a lot of time thinking about the chefs whose cuisine is on our wish lists. But, what about chefs? Surely they have folks they’d like to see grace their dining rooms. In that spirit, then, 17 chefs share their dream diners, from artists and prominent businesspeople, such as Action Bronson and Richard Branson, to famous chefs, past and present, like Auguste Escoffier and José Andrés.

Tim Maslow, Ribelle, Brookline, Massachusetts: Lamont Coleman, a.k.a. Big L
“Not because I know if the man loved to eat or not, but because of the short-but-prolific career he had that so many of our cook-generation can identify with. I would want to thank him for making me feel like less of an outsider and that it’s permissible to blaze trails outside the norm.” “A hard core life I toast to ex flaw, therefore I live raw and went to war wit the law.” – Big L, “Bring ‘em Back”

Maslow

Carl Schaubhut, Café Adelaide, New Orleans, Louisiana: Chef Jamie Shannon
“The late chef Jamie Shannon has rock-star status in my world. He changed the way cuisine in the great city of New Orleans was executed. He truly put haute Creole food on the map during his tenure at Commander’s Palace in the 90s, and I remember growing up and loving eating the food at such a wonderful, fun, exciting restaurant. He was also one of the earliest local television chef personalities that I recall. So much of his influence runs through the DNA of everyone who has cooked in Commander’s kitchen or has been taught by a chef that has been there. I’d love to prepare charred jalapeno-lacquered confit duck leg over a citrus-white bean puree with crispy Brussels sprouts, bread and butter pickled beets, bacon-onion jam, spiced New Roads pecans, wilted frisée, and duck crackling. It’s a very complex dish with layers of flavors that all harmonize into a beautiful celebration of a beloved Louisiana bird and great legumes and produce.”

Schaubhut

Suzanne Tracht, Jar, Los Angeles, California: Peter Frampton
“My dream diner would be Peter Frampton. Just like JAR, Frampton is all about nostalgia and good times. You might not think of Peter Frampton every day, but when “Baby I Love Your Way” comes on the radio it’s like – BOOM! – the volume dial immediately goes to 10 (ed. note: or 11!), and you’re singing, “But don’t hesitay-ay-ay-ate….” Jar reminds people of a swinging Rat Pack steakhouse; Peter Frampton reminds my generation of the fun days of high school in the mid-70’s. Because Frampton is a strict vegetarian, and my restaurant is famous for its steaks, chops, and pot roast, you might wonder what I would cook for him. But the truth is I have so many ideas. Depending on the time of year, I would go to the farmer’s market to choose an array of the most beautiful in-season organic vegetables. I would compose a dish with some gnocchi and let my creative juices flow.”

Jar

Zach Meloy, Better Half, Atlanta, Georgia: Elvis Presley
“All of Presley’s food loves were completely over the top: fried chicken crusted in ground-up potato chips, Jell-O made with 7-Up, fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Hillbilly haute cuisine … seems like something that’d be fun for an evening. I’d imagine you’d leave with more than one amazing story.”

Meloy

Tyler Kinnett, Harvest, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Chef Auguste Escoffier
“This might be a little out there into fantasy and time travel, but I would like to cook for Auguste Escoffier. The other day, Brian, the executive pastry chef at Harvest, and I were talking about Escoffier, who is sort of the father of modern cooking and is responsible for much of the technique that we use today. His recipes are ultra- complicated and have a scroll of an ingredient list involved. They are very time- consuming and technical, and many of the flavors are masked with 10 others, which back then was considered impressive. I would like to see what he would think of the simplified modern cuisine that we have today. Would he think we were hacks and simpletons? Or, would it make sense? I would serve him our summer tomato soup with a mini prosciutto-and-gruyere griddled cheese sandwich. Mainly because my recipe has about five ingredients and actually tastes like tomato.”

Kinnet

Jeremy Glover, Ceia Kitchen + Bar, Newburyport, Massachusetts: Lemmy Kilmister
“Lemmy Kilmister is pretty iconic in the metal world — he’s the lead singer in Motörhead. I think I’d serve him a pig head, roasted whole, no silverware, and a fifth of Jack Daniels– he likes Jack.”

Glover

Diane Kochilas, Molyvos, New York, New York: Bill Clinton/George Clooney/Tina Fey
“There are so many people I’d like to cook for, but here are a few that come to mind – Bill Clinton, because he’s vegan and Greek cooking (and our menu) has some of the most amazing, delicious vegan dishes in the world, which show off that perfectly incongruous Greek culinary characteristic of food that is both healthy and indulgent. Then there’s George Clooney, so I’d have the impetus to go on a diet before serving him! Lastly, Tina Fey because her maternal grandmother was Ikarian, and I would relish in serving her those Ikarian greens pies and telling her stories that might actually make HER laugh about the island and where her ancestors are from.”

Kochilas

Jon Oh, Scarpetta, New York, New York: Anyone who serves or has served in the armed forces
“These people deserve all the respect in the world. Their sacrifice is something that should never be taken for granted. In terms of dishes, I’d start off with the polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms, then go into our spaghetti. For me, those two dishes are like a big, warm hug.”

JonOh

Jay Murray, Grill 23 & Bar, Boston, Massachusetts: Dave Eggers
“As a once-aspiring writer, I am at least still an avid reader, and I can’t say enough good things about Dave Eggers. Two of his works – What is the What? and Zeitoun — are among my all time favorites; I devour anything out of McSweeney’s; and his two literary non-profits are visionary in how they successfully create opportunities for those who might never had them otherwise. I do know that Dave hails from a pre-Grill 23 Boston (hard to believe, but there was a time…), and spent most of his life between the Chicago and San Francisco Bay areas. So, what does that mean? Well, nothing, except that, I’m hoping he’s not some kind of non-meat eater; steak is probably a good bet. But, Chicago, you murmur. Sure, Chicago’s the land of Gene & Georgetti (great garbage salad, by the way), and Gibsons, and San Francisco has no shortage of amazing dining experiences. But neither has the 100-day aged Brandt prime rib eye. So, Dave, ship up to Boston, or just hop on a red-eye, and check this steak out! I’ll throw in some truffle tots and miso-glazed eggplant while you’re here, and you cannot miss Molly’s desserts.”

Murray

Troy Guard, TAG Restaurant, Denver, Colorado: Jon Bon Jovi
“My dream diner would be Jon Bon Jovi – I just think he’s the coolest! He came out in the 80s, and he’s still selling out 20,000 seats 30 years later. I love his music and how he’s changed over time – adapting his look, music, and songwriting. He’s innovative, he’s a family man (did you know he married his high-school sweetheart and has four kids?), he’s a smart businessman, he gives millions to charity, and he’s a big advocate in politics. He’s just the coolest guy. I would make him a menu of our bold and tasty dishes – oak-grilled octopus, heirloom tomato salad, hanger steak, and banana cream pie. We’d talk all night about business, politics, and rock n’ roll!”

GuardContinue Reading

Scenes from the OpenTable Aspen Food & Wine Classic Champagne + Sushi Party #FWClassic

The 2015 Aspen Food & Wine Classic was held this past weekend, and OpenTable was there to help celebrate the best in food and wine as curated by our friends at Food & Wine magazine. Since no celebration would be complete without bubbles, we were pleased to host our second annual Champagne-centric soiree at Matushisa Aspen with famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa. ICYMI, we present a few scenes from the OpenTable Aspen Food & Wine Classic Champagne + Sushi party.

Chef Nobu Blog Copy Matsu Party  (75 of 144) copy

Chef Nobu was in the house, which makes sense because he owns it, as was OpenTable’s Leela Srinivasan.

Sushi Blog Size Matsu Party  (29 of 144) copy

There was sushi, obviously.

Eric Ripert Blog Size Matsu Party  (58 of 144) copy

And chef Eric Ripert, too.

Lots of People Blog Copy Matsu Party  (78 of 144) copy

There were a lot of other fun food + wine people there also, but the Champagne never ran dry despite our efforts.

Krug Waterfalls Blog Matsu Party  (42 of 144) copy

PSA: Don’t go chasin’ waterfalls — unless they’re Krug waterfalls. Then by all means…

Dana Cowin Blog Size Matsu Party  (135 of 144) copy

It’s not a Food & Wine party without the mag’s editor-in-chief Dana Cowin and Maria Sinskey of Sinskey Winery (Do you see what I did there?).Continue Reading

Top Chef Texas Episode 11: Chef Ed ‘Red’ Hardy on the Snow White Redemption

In between shooting, Padma entertains the crew with her version of The Bump.

He’s ready to get busy living, but we’re dying for him to rehash the latest episode of Top Chef: Texas with Ed Hardy of Red Rooster Harlem.

Everyone looks mad that Bev won. Yeesh! The boys look dejected. And who knows what awaits them in San Antonio! This show is relentless.

Relentless? Yes. It relentlessly shovels the same formula at us overand over again. I caught myself counting the remaining episodes this week like a prisoner waiting for his release. At Top Chef-Shank Prison, time can draw out like a blade. I’ve spent some long nights, but none longer than this.

Chris J. is amazed he hasn’t won, and I’m amazed he hasn’t gone home yet.

Yeah. It’s seems like he’d better get busy cooking, or get busy dyin’. I hope before he goes home he at least redeems himself a little.

Eric Ripert is waiting for them. I think I’d be shaking in my shoes and praying that I didn’t have to cook anything involving seafood!

Well, it’s the 27th episode of the season so it was about time that Chef/Prisoner Guard Eric Ripert showed up to survey all the “new fish.” He’s intimidating, but I know from firsthand experience that he’s actually a nice guy all the way to his delicious nougat core.

A conveyor belt challenge. Zoinks! I’m picturing Lucy and Ethel and the chocolate factory. I’m thinking people should wait for a great ingredient. Anyway, what basics are you grabbing for your basic mis en place before you take an ingredient?Continue Reading