This past Monday night, after he did a talk on building a classic brand at Soho House, I came up to Eric Ripert, the celebrated chef and co-owner of the highly acclaimed Le Bernardin, and said hello. "I reviewed your restaurant in 2009 for a Chinese luxury lifestyle publication called Vivid Magazine," I said. There seemed to be a spark of recognition in his eyes, or, I at least assumed so.
"I have to quickly tell you about that day," I said. The restaurant's publicist had made a lunch reservation for me that coincided with my first day at a private equity firm, and I was tasked with telling one of the founding partners that I had a prior lunch commitment and assured him that I would be back in the office shortly thereafter. "And let me guess," interjected Eric, "It was hours!" YES. Try three hours. It was a full-on Chef's Tasting Menu with paired with a different wine for every course.
I was sloshed by the third course, which was exactly when I started receiving text messages from my new boss. "I hope you didn't lose your new job," he said, laughing. Thankfully, no, because I had asked the maître d' if the kitchen could assemble a box of petits fours for me to bring back to work and they did. I told a little white lie that it was a gift from Chef Ripert himself. All was forgiven.
I fully respect Eric Ripert. He has a calm, Zen-like elegance and truly believes in perfecting his craft and staying humble. He shared a story about what his mentor had once told him: "When you read an article that praises you and says great things about you, read it once and put it away. When you read a bad review, keep it on your desk and look at it everyday."
Later that night, I received a Twitter notification that I had a new follower: @ericripert. I couldn't have felt more honored!