Before the culinary awards and his Emmy-honored travel and cooking show, Le Bernardin’s executive chef Eric Ripert spent his days dancing at Twilo, the now-shuttered legendary New York music club where DJs like Junior Vasquez and DJ duo Sasha & John Digweed spun house music. Back then, as a young chef just starting out at Le Bernardin, Ripert’s dedication to integrating music into his life led to an unconventional schedule. He’d wake up at 6 a.m. and party at Twilo until lunchtime before heading to the restaurant for work.
“If I did that now,” he adds, “I’d have to lie in bed for two weeks.”
That doesn’t mean he’s lost his appreciation for music. Far from it. Whether the long-practicing Buddhist is listening to house tracks or Benedictine monk chant recordings, he finds inspiration in music and sees analogies between the creative processes of making food and making music.
Both require intense craftsmanship. When creating music, “you have to learn to touch the instruments. How to make the chords of the guitar vibrate and create harmony,” says Ripert. “In cooking, it’s craftsmanship when you cook, cut -- you learn different cuts and techniques that allow the fish to be crispy or the fish to be tender or not to be overcooked.”
Unsurprisingly, Ripert finds that he relates to musicians, like Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, whom he befriended at a dinner party years ago. When Pink Floyd toured the world a few years ago during The Wall tour, Ripert joined the Waters as his guest at performances in Paris and New York.
Interestingly enough, despite his profound appreciation for music, Ripert does not allow it in his kitchen. “Kitchens have to be focused totally on food.”
To hear more about how music influences Ripert’s approach to cooking, check out the above video.