GQ Restaurant Critic Alan Richman Takes NY Star Chef Eric Ripert Shopping
(Oh, and fresh Copper River Salmon is in Dallas area Costco stores this week…for $8.99 a pound. Told you.)
The PBS series Avec Eric, featuring Eric Ripert, co-owner and chef of Manhattan’s incomparable seafood restaurant Le Bernardin, starts with a trip to a bucolic destination. “You still need to be inspired by nature,” he says in the introduction. He learns about a product, returns to New York, and, aroused by his experience, prepares a dish. In one case, a hunt for wild boar (the boar got away) led to a loin of pork. Not only do you learn to cook in these episodes, you learn how a Michelin three-star kitchen operates. After seeing the show, I was inspired to create Avec Alan.
I live in Westchester County, a suburb of New York City, where innumerable residents have substantial money but are reluctant to spend it on interesting food. I invited Eric to experience eating in suburban America, a world unto itself, and participate in the filming of the first (and surely the only) episode of Avec Alan—see it now right here, or you could actually finish reading first. I brought in a staff, consisting of a pal from New Jersey whose excessive use of pots and pans demonstrates how little kitchen training he has undergone. I picked up Eric at the Metro-North station in my town, and off we went to my source of food, the megastore that inspires so much of the cooking of Westchester: Costco. There the food is sold in such bulk that I suspect an entire French village could live for a day off the contents of a single oversized, overloaded shopping cart. On his show, Eric eloquently expresses how thankful he is for his life. I have a different philosophy. When I go to Costco, I’m thankful for a parking space. Here is Eric’s report, starting with our arrival at Costco in Port Chester, New York: