Are there other chefs who inspire Eric Ripert?
Well, my mentors are Joel Robuchon, even Dominique Bouchet, who was in La Tour d’Argent, who was my first chef and taught me the classic cuisine, the basics. Joel Robuchon — big influence, huge influence. Jean-Louis Palladin, who was in Washington, D.C., was my mentor. Gilbert Le Coze of Le Bernardin — great influence on me, of course. Thomas Keller, Jean Georges, Daniel — big influence. You know, it’s — Masa, who’s Japanese — big influence on me. They have different styles. They have different approaches, but they are very influential because they do good — great cuisine.
Daniel is very influential, too. Daniel has a sense of hospitality that, 10 years ago, I didn’t have. And being with him, I learned hospitality better. 10 years ago, I was the chef who wanted to stay in the kitchen and was reluctant to go in a dining room. Today, I understand that people want to see the chef, and they want to shake your hand, and they want to say, “Hello,” and they want you to sign a book. So, I’ll do it, and I enjoy it, actually. But that mentality comes from a chef like Daniel. Jean-Georges was one of the most creative chefs when I came in America. And I was, like, almost obsessed by his creativity. He was, you know — from sauce, he was switching to juice, and broth, and so on, and putting a lot of power, in terms of flavors, in it and was very influential. Thomas has been highly influential with his cooking and we have French Laundry, the book that sold to almost 500,000 books. I have that book, and when I look at it, it’s beautiful. Presentations are beautiful, and what it does is very harmonious, and is, of course, influential.