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

Sweet! 13 Top NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 Desserts

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 kicks off on July 25th and runs through August 19th. Diners can save at hundreds of the city’s best restaurants with three-course $29 lunches and $42 dinners — which include dessert, arguably the best part of any meal. Here we present 13 of our top picks for meal enders sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Banana Pudding at Miss Lily’s
Chef Adam Schop created Miss Lily’s famous, creamy, and decadent banana pudding. It comes layered with freshly cut bananas and delicious vanilla wafers for some added texture. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Miss Lily’s.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée at David Burke Kitchen
The classic vanilla bean crème brûlée gets a seasonal twist from executive pastry chef Tracy Wilk with the addition of summery strawberry rhubarb jam and lemon thyme cookies. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at David Burke Kitchen.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Devil’s Food Cake at The Dutch
The name aside, the devil’s food cake from pastry chef Summer Bailey makes us feel positively angelic. Served with an elegant quenelle of vanilla ice cream, it’s a sin to skip this one. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at The Dutch.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Key Lime Pie at Charlie Palmer Steak
Savor the sweet and sour flavors of this summertime delight. Graham crumb, chantilly cream, and raspberry round things out in this version from executive chef Ryan Lory. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Charlie Palmer Steak.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Torta della Nonna at Tarallucci e Vino
This translates to grandma’s cake (and you wouldn’t want to disappoint her — or executive chef Cara Hermanson — by not ordering it). This quintessential Italian specialty is both delicate and delicious, filled with thick custard and topped with pine nuts and a sugary glaze. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Taralluci e Vino.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Molyvos Sundae at Molyvos
Executive chef Carlos Carretto gives the traditional ice cream sundae a Greek accent with baklava ice cream, Samos caramel, walnuts, and shredded sesame halva served in phyllo dough. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Molyvos.

NYC restaurant Week Summer 2016

Chocolate Genoise at The Liberty Room at Aureole
Sponge cake gets an assist from coconut marshmallow and coconut ice cream in chef Renaud Besnard’s spin on this French favorite. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at The Liberty Room at Aureole.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Sherbet Parfait at STK Midtown
Keep things fresh with this refreshing sorbet trio with a berry compote and almond crumble – perfect for summer indulging, courtesy of executive chef Andy Kitko. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at STK Midtown.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Maple Syrup Pie at Left Bank
It’s like breakfast for dessert with this ender from chef Laurence Edelman. Slathered in dark amber maple syrup and accompanied with cider cookies and creme fraiche, this Canadian-inspired dessert is always on the menu Left Bank. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Left Bank.

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July 2016 Restaurant Weeks: Celebrate Your City’s Culinary Scene for Less

July 2016 Restaurant WeeksWhether you’re traveling or staying local this summer, discounted dining is coming to a metropolitan area near you, thanks to July 2016 restaurant weeks.

* NYC French Restaurant Week offers sumptuous meals for the revolutionary prices of $17.89, $35.78 + $178.90 in celebration of Bastille Week, through July 17. Make a reservation.

* Toronto Summerlicious features $18 ,$23 + $28 lunches and $28, $38 + $48 dinners, July 8-24. Make a reservation.

* Providence Restaurant Weeks brings you $14.95 lunches and $29.95 and $34.94 dinners, July 10-23. Make a reservation.

* Restaurant Week Baton Rouge serves up $15, $20, $25, $30 + $35 prix-fixe menus, July 11-16. Make a reservation.

* Clayton Restaurant Week is your chance to enjoy three-course $25 + $35 dinners, July 11-17. Make a reservation.

* University City Dining Days in Philadelphia showcases $15, $25 + $35 dinners, July 14-24. Make a reservation.

* Charlottesville Restaurant Week in Virginia beckons with $19, $29 + $39 dinners, July 15-23. Make a reservation.

* Gwinnett Restaurant Week has three-course prix-fixe lunches and dinners for just $25, July 17-21. Make a reservation.

* Mpls-St. Paul Magazine Restaurant Week lets you choose from $10, $15 + $20 lunches and $25, $30 + $35 dinners, July 17-22. Make a reservation.

* Restaurant Week Columbus starts soon. Book now for $15, $20, $25, $30 + $35 meals, July 18-23. Make a reservation.Continue Reading

Kid-Friendly Fine Dining: 6 Big Ticket Restaurants for Little Ones in NYC + SF

Foodie parents, stop worrying. Just because now have tiny tots in tow when you go out to dinner doesn’t mean you can only eat at places that have cartoon mascots, a video game room, and an all-deep-fried kids menu. In fact, when you’re in New York City or San Francisco, you can dine at some of the finest restaurants around. Not only do they have four stars, but they’re able to accommodate four-year-olds, too. Here are six big-ticket kid-friendly fine dining restaurants for little ones in the Big Apple and the Golden City.

New York City

Le Perigord
One of the finest and fanciest French restaurants in Manhattan is more than happy to host petits convives (little diners). Owner Georges Briguet, who has four children and seven grandchildren, loves having kids around. “I don’t even mind if they cry in the restaurant,” he says. “It’s better than music.” There is no children’s menu, so servers simply ask what dishes might work best. Favorites include the vegetable tart or lobster bisque for appetizers, while a variety of pastas, turbot filet, and the burger are the most often-ordered mains. Sometimes Briguet will serve diminutive diners snails, sweetbreads, or frogs’ legs. “I don’t tell them what they’re eating until they’re done,” he says. “It’s important they are exposed to such flavors so early.” Meals finish with a visit from the “Temptation Wagon,” a cart laden with options such as chocolate mousse, tarte tatin, and raspberry tart. Make a reservation at Le Perigord now.

kid-friendly fine dining

The Back Room at One57
Now you can encourage your kid’s love of reading while you dine. The Feed Your Mind program pairs children’s books from Phaidon Publishing – which are “served” on a vintage library cart – with tyke-friendly fare from chef Chad Brauze. So while they dive into Doodle Cook or Harold’s Hungry Eyes, they can dig into a salmon bento box, a turkey dog dressed up with cheddar cheese, or the kale salad with honey vinaigrette. Not only are many options quite healthy, but the experience also means your child won’t be draining your iPhone battery during dinner while they watch Wild Kratts episodes. Make a reservation at the Back Room at One57 now. 

kid-friendly fine dining

Agern
This past spring, Agern kicked off its Kids Table initiative. The chic, Danish-inspired restaurant and other high-end eateries in New York City hosted shorties-only meals for diners aged 7 to 14 years old, which raised money for the Melting Pot Foundation. “The idea is that kids should be trusted to try adult food and to challenge their palates,” says general manager Katie Bell. For the course of the meal, no adults were allowed in the restaurant, except the staff. The kitchen prepared a very grown-up menu for 55 small guests, including braised lamb. “One of the girls came to me and said, ‘It’s delicious, though it might be a little overcooked.’” Says Bell. “Only in New York.” Make a reservation at Agern now.

kid-friendly fine dining

San Francisco

Farallon
The Instagram-worthy décor recalling 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at this breezy sea-centric eatery in Union Square is enough to make it a hit with pint-sized eaters. Jellyfish- shaped fixtures emitting an otherworldly glow hang from the ceiling, columns mimic towers of kelp, and stools take the shape of octopuses. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a “caviar staircase” covered in 50,000 iridescent indigo marbles leading up to the balcony overlooking the dining room. After your kid finishes ooh’ing and aah’ing, you can give them their first taste of caviar — or dare them to egg a sea urchin. Or you can simply order them a bowl of fettuccine – and forgo telling them it features smoked octopus (until after they finish devouring it). Make a reservation at Farallon now.

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