"Pack your knives!" sounds so much less harsh in a honeyed French accent, non? Eric Ripert, erstwhile Top Chef guest judge and current top chef at New York's Le Bernardin, goes solo with Avec Eric on PBS. He spoke to Sarah Ball.
You're so popular on
. Why your own show?
I wanted to do something a bit different. I wanted to try television myself, even though I don't speak English [well].
The show will have subtitles?!
Totally! In Texas, for sure. [Laughs]
But your accent is charming.
I had a meeting years ago with a network president and she said, "We don't want anyone with an accent anymore." So we didn't want to go with a TV network. I like the dynamic of PBS. They're very honest and authentic.
What's new about your show?
It's more myself. It's basically taking people with me on an adventure. It creates more intimacy, and it's a different vision than what you would expect. A wild-boar hunt? I haven't seen that on TV yet.
I love the lush cinematography.
We had three cameras set up, and the idea was that we were not repeating scenes. Whatever we get, we get. If it's good, it's good. If it's not good, that's unfortunate, but there's no repeat. Even in the kitchen, no repeat.
What if you burn something?
Not to be pretentious, but I don't remember the last time I burned something.
Is a good palate born or learned?
Born. But it's like a nice voice. If you don't train it, you have a nice voice—but you'll never be Pavarotti.
You have an almost Buddhist respect for food, especially meat.
The nature of human beings is to eat meat and fruits and vegetables, and therefore we have to kill animals. I don't have a problem with that. But it's a sacred moment. It's a gift of life. When we kill a lobster here, I always say, do it humanely. I don't want the lobster to have pain. If you burn the lobster or you totally oversalt it or don't do a good job, you don't pay homage to that life. It's an insult.