maître d’ - Le Bernardin, NYC
Written by Nick Solares
Reimagination, not reiteration, defines Le Bernardin’s continued success as the vanguard of fine dining in New York City.
Le Bernardin has held four New York Times stars, the newspaper’s highest accolade, for an astonishing 26 years – a feat unmatched by any other restaurant.
Founded in Paris, France, in 1972 by Chef Gilbert Le Coze and his sister Maguy, Le Bernardin moved to NYC in 1986, garnering four stars that year. Current chef Eric Ripert took the helm in 1994 and had the stars reconfirmed. The focus remains on seafood, yet while many of NYC’s classic French restaurants long ago devolved into self- parody, Le Bernardin has consistently reinvented itself.
While Le Bernardin is unabashedly French in influence, Ripert is not afraid to embrace a more global vision and he deftly incorporates non-traditional, and especially Japanese, elements into his masterful creations. Ingredients are scrupulously sourced – the freshest seafood, vegetables from local farmers, Wagyu beef. The menu is categorised as Almost Raw, Barely Touched, and Lightly Cooked, highlighting the chef’s ethos of allowing the purity of the ingredients to come to the fore. It is the adherence to the purity of the ingredients themselves that makes Ripert’s cooking so distinctive.
Eric Ripert – A chef’s chef
In the world of gastronomy he has many fans but few peers. Amongst his fellow chefs he is known simply as ‘the Ripper’ – a term of both affection and reverence. By the time Eric Ripert emigrated from France to the United States in 1989 he had already worked in some of the finest kitchens in Paris. By the age of 29 he had garnered four stars as the chef at Le Bernardin in 1995. He has gone on to receive numerous awards including three Michelin stars and has become a staple on San Pellegrino’s ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list.