How does Eric Ripert put together a restaurant menu?
A menu has to be harmonious. You can’t repeat five times the same ingredients in your menu. You can’t have only broth, or vinaigrette, or heavy sauce on a menu. The menu has to be in sync with the season. I mean, in January, if you do a tomato salad, it’s a little bit off. I mean, it’s very wrong, actually. Here in New York, at least. So, creating a menu is more, I would say, craftsmanship in a sense — intellectual craftsmanship.
Creativity is more instinctive. You don’t control; you live with it. And creativity comes when it wants. So, I may be talking to you and have a flash. I’m not going to take a note — I promise — but sometimes, I find myself in the middle of a market and I’m very creative, and sometimes, I am not that much creative. And sometimes, I am in a plane — and actually, in the plane is where I’m extremely creative. I don’t know why — maybe because I’m disconnected, and there’s nothing to do, and I don’t want to watch the TV, and I don’t want to talk to the person next to me. So, suddenly, ideas come and I let my imagination run wild.