You have heard me reference my fellow chef stalker AT in some previous posts. She, like me, is a foodie who is not afraid of plunking down some cash for a fancy meal. Back a couple years ago when my man crush, Anthony Bourdain, did his tour she was quick to purchase us tickets for Nashvegas and then Memphis. We attended the event and yes you probably have seen the pics of us with Bourdain in our Facebook pictures. She for the longest time was one up on me as she got to meet one of my other French Chef Gods, Eric Ripert. Well that shit changed last Wednesday.
Ripert just penned a book about his childhood and growing up to become a very young line cook in the critically acclaimed La Tour d’Argent in Paris. Here a string bean armed 17 year old cut his teeth or as I refer to it, became a man working in a French Kitchen. If you have never been a restaurant employee this next part may be a tad boring for you. When I graduated from the University I got a job as a busboy in Memphis’ acclaimed Chez Phillipe in the Peabody Hotel. The kitchen was run by Jose Gutierez who is a very well respected chef in Memphis. Jose was French, his sous chef was French, the Fish chef was Spanish, and the Garde Manager (salad & dessert chef) was from 110th street in Harlem. To say that there was some verbal abuse is an understatement. It was in this environment that I learned humility, self control and two words that I would say at least 100 times a night “Yes Chef!” I learned how to operate under stress, how to stay focused and all the time while Chef was screaming at me “Hey Blondie, will you move your ass!” Oh and thank God I wasn’t the worst one, poor back waiter JV took more abuse than any of us. I look back on this time as a great learning experience to become humble and learn respect. I, much like Ripert (stop laughing AT) went to work at another French Restaurant in Memphis and worked under the mad scientist Gene Bjorklund. Thankfully I got my first R.J. (Real Job) and went to working days.
Enough about me, Eric Ripert in his book, said that while working at La Tour d’Argent he cut himself, screwed up Béarnaise turning it into scrambled eggs and this was his first day too. He described it in his interview with Bon Appetite’s food editor as very hard and tested his soul to become a chef. After 2 years he then went to work for Joël Robuchon and here he learned that there was nothing short of excellence. If you want the rest of the story, go buy the damn book “32 Yolks” and read it yourself.
On Wednesday of last week I headed to Brooklyn for a book signing by Eric Ripert. The bookstore had a Q&A with Ripert and Adam Rapoport of Bon Appetite and I have to say, it was pretty funny. Afterwards AT’s man crush signed copies of his book and since my girl AT said all she wanted was a signed copy of his book, I got her one and overnighted it to her. By the way AT, I chose not to get a pic with Ripert but did ask if he wanted to share an Uber since he lives not to far from me in the UES. He said he would have to decline because he was going to have a late dinner with his wife and son. We are going to get beers next weekend anyway.
So I guess the only last two names on my list are Paul Bocuse and Daniel Boulud and then I can move onto another genre of cuisine. Happy Early Christmas AT! And if Eric Ripert goes missing I am sending them to your apartment in Memphis.
Yeah, Yeah, You were first to meet him!
Haven’t seen him yet but it is just a matter of time.
This was right before AT asked Tony Bourdain “Does this napkin smell like Chloroform?”
Ripert and Adam Rapoport grilling each other.
So I got there a tad early to Dumbo in Brooklyn.
AT – We still have our deal right? You get him, I get her right?