How does Eric Ripert inspire the next generation of chefs?
I always want to make sure that whoever is coming to our industry is coming for the right reason, which is passion for cooking, passion for being a waiter or a bartender. But let’s go back to the cooking, because I think it’s where I’m obviously the most expert at. When I talk, I say to them, “You have to make sure that you’re not coming here and you’re seduced by what you see in the media, which is celebrity chefs. You’re not coming here to become a celebrity. You’re not in the cooking business to become rich, because the chances are very slim that you’re going to have a huge income. It’s not about that. It’s cooking. It’s a very artistic way of living. It’s a lifestyle. It’s craftsmanship involved, and you have to like that. You have to love that. You have to overcome the difficulties of being a chef or a cook, which is 12 hours on your feet. When everybody is at home, you’re in the kitchen. On the holidays, you’re working, and so on. When you go to a school, that costs, actually, a lot of money to go to culinary school. When you come out of it, you are paid $7.75 an hour. It’s not like you come out of Harvard, and you have a huge salary. And you starting out at the bottom.” And, “To become a good chef, it takes at least ten years.” So, I always warn them about that — making sure that they have the true passion and fire that will overcome all the challenges.