Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert explains why some teams worked well together and others didn't.

on Jul 7, 2010

Hello, I’m Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin, and I’m commenting on episode four of Top Chef D.C.

Quickfire Challenge: I thought it was a very good challenge to create something that parents could eat and enjoy and, as a puree, the baby could enjoy as well. It was a bit surprising to see so much curry, actually, but some of the dishes looked really good. I liked the presentation of Angelo, with the different layers in the pot. Some of the ingredients were very esoterical, and I’m not sure that the palate of a baby would really enjoy some of those ingredients. They could be very offending to them, especially when they’re spicy. Actually, the winning dish, from Tamesha Warren, was well-balanced. But for babies I would be careful not to use maybe shellfish stock, just in case for allergies, because babies may have allergies at a very young age. So I think being cautious is something that should be truly considered for that challenge. Kevin didn’t do well – he didn’t finish his dish – but he could have had a winner because he was using simple ingredients, something that a young palate would enjoy.

Elimination Challenge: They were working as a team, which is not easy, to work as a team – I’m sure they’d rather be on their own. We saw some working really well as a team, and some groups having a little bit of tension. And as soon as you have tension, obviously the team cannot produce at its best. So its too bad because we saw one team going home. I liked many of them, actually, and I actually liked the patatas bravas. They didn’t win with that dish, but the eggs and the patatas bravas were not only looking beautiful on the plate, but they were also delicious. The dish with the crab cake and the hollandaise and the egg from Tiffany and Timothy Dean was really the best by far, and I think its also something that could be easily reproduced in a hotel. Ed and Alex’s scallop with the ricotta gnudi and broccoli rabe was well-balanced, was nice. If I had a little bit of a critique about this dish its that it was a bit rich, because of the gnudis being sautéed. I think if they would have poached them, it would have been lighter and brighter. However, it was definitely a winner in that category for that challenge. Angelo and Tamesha decided to do the sliced beef marinated. It was really good. It was a little bit too much onion for my taste, but in terms of flavor and lightness and brightness was the perfect item to have a great lunch. Kelly and Andrea did a great short rib. It was absolutely delicious – it was well-glazed, it was well-cooked, and they put a lot of sauce, which I think when you serve a piece of meat like that you want to have some jus. And the polenta, it was a bit firm. I think they wanted that polenta to be firm, but it could have been a little more smooth and runny. However, that dish was very well-balanced, and it was a pleasure to eat the short rib. Almost everyone at the table finished the dish, which is very rare because we eat so much food, especially that day.

Lynne and Arnold were not meant to be together as a team, that’s for sure. And we saw a lot of tension, we saw them fighting, almost. She was very moody, he was very frustrated; they disagreed on a lot of details of the recipe. Making fresh pasta with squid ink is not an easy task, but they did a good job, I think, on making the pasta. However, they disagreed on cooking aspects. At the end, we had a sauce that was really, really good – surprisingly sweet, but at the same time not too sweet. They had a certain acidity, they had a lot of flavors, it was going well with the mussels, and the problem was the pasta. The pasta was really undercooked – I mean almost to the point of being raw. And that was obviously a very, very terrible mistake that you cannot forgive. And, therefore, they were the losing ones, and they went home.

After watching Episode 5, I will be with you again, commenting on it. And if you have any questions in between, please do not hesitate to ask. I will answer them at that time.