Toothpicks and Power Lunches

Toothpicks and Power Lunches

Eric Ripert shares what he would consider a successful menu at his own Le Bernardin.

Full transcript after the jump!
Hi, I’m Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin, and I am commenting on Episode No. 7.

I don’t really think that the challenge of the toothpick was too much of a challenge. I think it’s pretty easy. We create those tiny portions with concentrated flavors every day. Angelo was not very happy with the fact he had to use cucumber; he thought it was very outdated. I don’t find the ingredient outdated at all. I think that even the judge thought it was a good combination and, to his own surprise, he won the challenge. Alex, in that challenge, was in the bottom, and it doesn’t really surprise me because to do a dish with strawberries, or raspberries, with seafood is not really a good idea. You have to be a great genius to make it sensational, and he definitely didn’t have the genius that day. I don’t think he made it too edible, so, he was in the bottom.

So The Palm opened its gates, or its doors, for the first time, and they had to do a power lunch. A power lunch – I mean actually here, at Le Bernardin in New York, we have something called a power lunch. You have to have on your menu some light fare, and also some robust dishes. And that’s what makes a happy power lunch. So, in that challenge, Andrea went home. And it looked like her swordfish was definitely overcooked, and what seems to be a not-so-successful combination was the vanilla. And when you use vanilla you have to be very careful too. A lot of chefs use vanilla with lobster, with seafood, and very often the combination doesn’t work. You need a lot of spice to compensate for the sweetness of the vanilla, because it is always a little bit sweet, and I don’t think Andrea really understood that. She was referring to a dish that she cooked maybe a long time before; however, nobody was really pleased with the swordfish and the vanilla, and Andrea went home.

Well, I was surprised that Kelly was criticized for the portion because it is the portion that The Palm has for its clients. A porterhouse is a porterhouse. If I would have been Kelly, I would have cooked the meat on the bone, as she did, but then I would have sliced the meat, which happens very often at a steakhouse. They slice the meat for you after it has been cooked on the bone, so you have the meat that is very tasty and also very relaxed, like very tender, because it has been attached to the bone and doesn’t shrink as much. Amanda taking the bone off I think was a mistake, but at the end of the day her meat seemed to be tasting better than Kelly, and she didn’t have the issues on the salt that Kelly had. And it looked like Kelly was a bit punished for not sharing her salt with Amanda. Alex had the salmon dish to do, and he wasn’t sure until the very end. He was supposedly full of ideas, but not very clear about it. And then the challenge arrived and he cooked the salmon and served it with forbidden rice, and that beautiful, silky, tasty pea puree. And it seems to be very controversial because I think it was Ed who suddenly lost his pea puree, and Alex found pea puree, or something like that. The team seems to be very doubtful of Alex cooking pea puree. I haven’t seen all of the footage, so I don’t know what happened, but as a viewer it looks like it was very suspicious, and it very well could have happened that Alex took the pea puree from his friend Ed. I think Ed was smart not to mention anything at the Judges' Table because it doesn’t matter anyway, at that point. As a client, you never care if the pea puree at the restaurant disappeared or not. What you care about is having a great dish. So I think Ed was silent and proved that he had a certain wisdom. Ed and Tiffany seemed to have a good week, and they seem to have a very good and friendly relationship. I don’t know what to say. It seems to be fairly inoffensive at this point, and I have no doubt that it could go the other way, but obviously, with the way it is filmed, you may be thinking that something could happen soon.

That was commenting on Episode 7, and next week I will be talking about Episode 8. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask, and I will gladly answer.

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