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

This Is the End: 9 Chefs on Their Last Suppers

What would you want to eat for your last meal? The sky’s the limit; anything you want. Don’t get bogged down in the finality of the situation. Instead, think about the dishes and drinks that have given you the most pleasure in your life. This might be the first time you’re considering this question, but many chefs think about it constantly. After all, their lives are focused on and consumed by food, so they have some pretty strong feelings on the subject. We asked nine of them what they would want to enjoy for their last suppers before joining James Beard and Escoffier in the great big kitchen in the sky.

Amy Brandwein, Centrolina, Washington, D.C.
“I imagine my last supper with my husband, family, and closest friends. I’d start with tuna nigiri with ginger and soy sauce. Followed by a bowl of buckwheat chitarra with anchovies and chickpeas, which I’d make myself. I’d move on to chestnut trofie with financière sauce featuring sweetbreads, veal, and chicken livers by Roberto Donna of Al Dente in Washington, D.C. From there, I’d want pad si-ew with duck and Chinese broccoli at Duangrat’s Thai in Fall’s Church, Virginia. Next up? Pat LaFrieda’s ribeye with turnip greens cooked with garlic, hot pepper, and anchovies, plus Robuchon potatoes from Rose’s Luxury in Washington, D.C. To finish, I’d have one of my favorite desserts: coffee gelato with whipped cream, salted peanuts, and Kahlua.” Make a reservation at Centrolina.

Last Suppers

Juan Manuel Barrientos, El Cielo, Miami, Florida
“I’d want traditional Colombian cuisine – fried rice, plantains, chorizo, chicharrón, avocados, arepas with hogao sauce (made with tomato and onion), and aguardiente (an anise flavored liqueur). Dessert would be sweet figs cooked tender in sweet water served with queso blanco, along with coffee and guarapo (cane sugar juice). Everything would be served family style and, of course, my family would be there. Family is the most important thing for me, and they bring balance to my life.” Make a reservation at El Cielo.

Last Suppers

Trae Basore, Pearl & Ash, New York, New York
“I would start off with a plate of fried pickles from Penguin Ed’s Bar-B-Q in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with a tall New Belgium Fat Tire. For dinner, I’d just have charcuterie – mortadella, chicken liver paté – and a cheese plate with three year-aged Parmesan, a stinky Époisses, and a really nice Gorgonzola. That would come with a big crusty French loaf, Dijon mustard, and pickles. A pint of strawberry Häagen-Dazs to finish. I’d like to enjoy it with my fiancée and all of my friends and some bluegrass music from Old Crow Medicine Show.” Make a reservation for Pearl & Ash.

Last Suppers

Ed Scarpone, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, Washington, D.C.
“I’d want to cook my own burger because no one really knows how you like your burger. I go for medium rare with a nice redness in the middle. It’s simple. Just nice ground meat, a thick slice of onion, mayo, and aged cheddar cheese on a Martin’s hamburger roll. I’d have it with really good fries – cut bigger, skin on, and double fried, so you get that nice crispy outside and that mashed potato inside. Mayo on the side for dipping, because I despise ketchup. PBR to drink. I love pecan pie, but I’ve been allergic to pecans since I was 14-years-old. But if I’m going to kick it, I’d go for it and have grandma-style pecan pie with graham cracker crust for dessert.” Make a reservation at DBGB Kitchen and Bar.

Last Suppers

Jennifer Carroll, Requin, Fairfax, Virginia
“My last supper would be an all-day affair on a beach on St. John with my fiancée, Billy, my family, and best friends. It would start with breakfast – a Taylor’s pork roll, egg, cheese, and scrapple on a buttered English muffin. This is what I grew up eating, and my dad still makes it for me when I go home. I know – super healthy. I’d be drinking rosé all day – morning, noon, and night. I’d move on to eating mango, pineapple, and papayas. For dinner, there would be simply grilled fish – red snapper or black bass – with lemon, oil, and herbs. And I’d need sides – my mom’s mac ‘n’ cheese with ham, roasted turnips, and pickled beets. For dessert, there would be angel food cake – because I love the simplicity of it – every ice cream in the world, Sour Patch Kids, peanut M&Ms, and chocolate-covered pretzels, along with Fernet and aged dark rum to drink.” Make a reservation at Requin.

Last SuppersContinue Reading

Postponed: Score a Reservation for 2 to Top Chef Kitchen in NYC for Tuesday, 10/30/12!

Don’t miss your chance to dine at Top Chef Kitchen on Tuesday, October 30, 2012, at 5:45PM!

Note: Due to Hurricane Sandy, we are postponing our reservations giveaway. Please check back for further details later in the week.

Did you miss your chance to snag a reservation at Bravo’s Top Chef Kitchen? Here’s another opportunity to dine at the restaurant and also meet other Top Chef fans like yourself! We’re releasing three reservations for two* to Bravo’s Top Chef Kitchen for Tuesday, October 30, 2012, at 5:45PM. Comment here and we’ll pick three at random. Then, meet us at Top Chef Kitchen (address below) Tuesday evening to claim your seats at New York’s hottest new restaurant! You and your guest will be seated with four other Top Chef fans, so you can discuss your favorite chefs and seasons.

For a chance to score one of the reservations, tell us who your plus-one would be in the comments section below. We’ll notify the chosen-at-random reservation recipients by 5PM PST Sunday, October 28, 2012, via the email address associated with your comment.

Details: Taste Top Chef-caliber food prepared by the series’ alumni Chef’testants Tiffani Faison and Jennifer Carroll with a four-course prix-fixe menu ($95, beverage, tax, and service charge not included) or a four-course prix-fixe menu with wine pairings ($125, tax, and service charge not included). *Seating is at a table of six with four other Top Chef fans. Cost of meal, transportation, and accommodations not included.

 When/Where: Tuesday, October 30, 2012, at 5:45PM, at Bravo’s Top Chef Kitchen, 211 West Broadway in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. Click more for terms and conditions. Continue Reading

Top Chef Kitchen by Bravo Opens in New York City in October + November

Will your favorite former Top Cheftestant be behind the burner at Top Chef Kitchen?

Bravo presents Top Chef Kitchen, an impressive four-course dining experience from Bravo’s Emmy®- and James Beard Award-winning television series, Top Chef. Located in the heart of New York City’s TriBeCa and open for a limited time, Top Chef Kitchen will give fervent Top Chef fans the opportunity to taste Top Chef-caliber food prepared by the series’ roster of alumni Cheftestants. Each week, a new pair of Top Chefs will be on-site to execute a creative menu as well as interact with the restaurant guests. The Cheftestants’ schedules are Tiffany Derry (Private Social) and Paul Qui (Uchiko), October 23-28; Jennifer Carroll and Tiffani Faison, October 30-November 4; Richard Blais (The Spence) and Grayson Schmitz, November 6-11; and Fabio Viviani (Cafe Firenze and Firenze Osteria) and Antonia Lofaso, November 13-18. The four-course prix-fixe dinner is $95 per person, $125 per person with wine pairings.

Reservations were snapped up in just 40 minutes, but stay tuned for reservations giveaways, an inside look at Top Chef Kitchen, interviews, and more!