Le Bernardin's Chef Eric Ripert Reveals the Most Important Advice He's Gotten from a Mentor
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Mentors can play a huge part in shaping not just your career, but the way you develop as a person.
That’s especially true for Eric Ripert, head chef at the highly rated Le Bernardin in New York City. As he tells it, he was lucky to have several mentors in life -- among them, the late Gilbert Le Coze, a chef and part-owner of the restaurant. Le Coze took Ripert under his wing when he came on board as a chef in 1994
At the time, Ripert was 24 and had just left as the sous-chef at the now-shuttered James Beard award-winning Bouley. Before that, he’d gotten his feet wet in two of the most iconic restaurants in Paris: Jamin and La Tour D’Argent.
One night, during a guys’ night out that involved “probably too much bourbon,” Ripert says Le Coze told him something that has stayed with him to this day.
“You will probably see yourself in magazines and see yourself on TV and be successful in that aspect,” he remembers Le Coze telling him. “Let me give you advice. If you have a good article, stay humble. Read it, and never look at it again. If you have a bad article, keep it on your desk and read it everyday for a long time until you correct the mistakes.”
Le Coze died from a sudden heart attack in 1994, leaving Ripert, who’d started at Le Bernardin that year, at the kitchen’s helm.
In spite of -- or perhaps because of the shakeup -- the restaurant received the first of its many four-star ratings from The New York Times months later.
“I always think of Gilbert when I see a nice article or picture,” says Ripert. Then, like his mentor advised, he puts it away.