Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert praises the cheftestants use of strategy, and tells us the right way to unshell a conch.

on Mar 17, 2011

I'm Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin, commenting on Episode 14, the New York season of Top Chef, the finale in the Bahamas for the All-Stars.

So the Quickfire in this episode is about consistency and about providing 100 dishes that are very much the same, in terms of presentation and flavor profile. And Mike Isabella and Richard decide to do a pasta bolognese, so they make their own pasta, and of course, bolognese sauce. And it looks very similar. They create 100 portions that seem to be good. The people like it. On the other side we have Antonia and Tiffany who are doing a cold seared-beef salad, that is very consistent, and of course they don't even have the problem of temperature, since it's a cold dish. And it's very clever to think like that because you don't have to worry about serving hot food or not hot food. Everybody likes the dish. Ultimately they win, and I think it's well deserved.

So Mike and Richard are not very happy about seeing the ladies winning, and they think they took the easy way. Listen it's a challenge, I mean you have to cook good food, but you have to be strategic. And they did a lentil salad too. They had to cook the lentils and make it good as well. So again, there's no reason to be bitter. They won; they won.

So the Elimination Challenge is a little bit like the Survivor meets Top Chef, and they have to go and swim and go get their own conch, which they do. It's not easy, because it's heavy, and you have to be under the water, obviously. Thank god, they all swim pretty well. And then they come back on the beach. And they have to make the fire, clean up the conch.

And they're not really familiar with the conch; they don't know really how to take it out of the shell. It's a much simpler way to do it, than that, however they used the hammer, and they spent quite some time trying to break the shell and take the conch out of its shell.

I think Mike is the most creative in terms of finding a technique to take the conch out by cooking them. It’s not necessarily the right technique, but it work better than the others.