Eric Ripert’s Provencal Vegetable Soup looks worth the effort.
Over at Food and Wine, Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert break it down…like this:
Fancy Chefs Making Burgers
AB: I understand this trend. It’s dismaying, but I completely understand the impulse. What chef wants to die broke? And let’s face it: Burgers are good. But it is definitely a little dismaying, any time you see really great chefs cooking below their abilities by putting out a burger.
ER: A burger is part of the menu at our Westend Bistro in Washington, DC. Our burger was actually inspired by McDonald’s—except for the quality of the meat, of course. A McDonald’s bun is perfect. You put it in your hands; it’s not too big, it’s not too tall. The ratios, the slice of tomato—for some reason, it’s all perfect. The pickles are perfect. The shredded salad, it’s not too much, not too little. When we did our burger, for us, it was a very interesting research project. We looked at companies like McDonald’s and Burger King and thought, What is great in their approach? And how can we make it great with the meat that we have, which is, obviously, of different quality?
[Photo Via: Gourmet]
ER: I used to be a very authoritative chef — a young, borderline violent dictator. Very intolerant, insulting my cooks, screaming in the kitchen, breaking china. But I wasn’t happy and my team wasn’t happy. In 2000, I started to contemplate what had gone on in my career. I was losing a lot of employees and was confused. So I decided to change the way we manage people. I realized that you couldn’t be happy if you had anger. It’s a very simple thought. But it helped me decide to not be abusive any longer. We decided to change.
But how did you manage to transmit that to your staff?
ER: It took me a long time to pass that to my cooks — there was a lot of resilience. I couldn’t yell at someone for yelling, so I had to be very patient and explain that yelling is not good. First of all, you’re not happy. Second, the cook you just yelled at is scared. Third, the team isn’t happy. And it creates an ambiance in the kitchen which is not productive. I want a peaceful environment. It took us a while, but today we have arrived at a certain level of management where the team is happy to be together and work together, and it stays that way even at our busiest times. The chefs don’t yell and scream, and there is no drama.
Sometimes we have lapses. It’s not like every day is joyful. But when we have a bad day, we recognize it and try to compensate for the mistake and move on. Sometimes a guy will flip.
Do you ever flip?
ER: The other day I said something mean to a sous chef. I didn’t really scream, but I knew I got him. I regretted it, apologized, and that was that.
But I notice the success in the turnover. People will stay, even line cooks, for three years. They feel that they are part of the experiment, and they realize that you can do good food, under pressure, without being an asshole.
Go figure that.