Avec Eric is Chef Eric Ripert’s award-winning cooking show on PBS. I find myself continually impressed and inspired by his commitment to craft, as he constantly seeks new sources of inspiration and knows the value of stepping outside the kitchen walls to learn and grow as a chef. It’s also heartening to see someone so excited about food and well, just naturally exuberant. He always looks like a kid in a candy store, especially when he’s meeting and learning from other chefs, winemakers, fishermen, growers and food artisans. And I love getting a glimpse of the creative process in Le Bernardin’s kitchen, as he leads his team of cooks through tasting exercises, while they try to develop dishes based on new flavors or ingredients that he’s discovered in his travels.
The episode clip I’m sharing is all about “Star Ingredients.” In it, Ripert spends time with another chef, David Kinch of Manresa restaurant and Love Apple Farm in Los Gatos, CA, whose homage to the ingredients on the plate is truly something to behold. At $170 a pop, it’s more than likely I won’t be indulging in his seasonal tasting menu anytime soon on my pauper’s budget, but I totally respect what this guy is doing. Kinch even grows his own food at Love Apple Farms, which follows organic and biodynamic farming principles. Of course he’s not the first chef to do the restaurant-farm thing (hello, Dan Barber), but the level of culinary artistry he appears to be achieving, while cleaving to his ingredient-as-star aesthetic, is what elevates him above the rest. His restaurant’s signature salad dish is a case in point (see clip below—it’s a snippet of the full video above, even though image looks the same). Some people might call this food fussy, but I think it’s brilliant.
And speaking of Eric Ripert, it’s exciting to see that he finally gave his four-star restaurant, Le Bernardin, a long overdue makeover. If early photos are any indication, the new dining room is spectacular—modern, with an understated sophistication—just like its owner.