Jacques Pepin showed Eric Ripert a thing or two in a friendly cook-off at the Arsht Center Celebrity Chef series Friday night. With nine minutes to go on the 30-minute clock, Pepin, who found time to make dessert in addition to the two dishes he and Ripert were expected to prepare, proclaimed: "Do we have to wait until the end or can we start plating?"
After an introductory interview by Anthony Bourdain, the two French chefs were given a mystery basket with a whole chicken, a whole fish, fennel, asparagus, quinoa, cauliflower, oranges and a mango. Pepin, perhaps feeling as if he was in one of his TV shows, gave the play-by-play of everything he was doing, while a quieter (probably not by choice) Ripert looked focused. Both made chicken bouillabaisse as one of their dishes.
And while there was no winner in this cook-off, the audience got a good tease from the aromas coming out of the kitchen and a good laugh out of the chefs' candid answers to Bourdain's questions.
Continue reading for some sound bites:
Pepin on being a chef then vs. now...
"Any good mother would have wanted her child to marry an architect, a
lawyer, not a cook. Now we're geniuses."
Ripert on working for Joel Robuchon ...
"I'm still traumatized."
"It was a very, very tough kitchen. He was considered a genius at the
time and we were working there because he was a genius and we would
accept any kind of abuse from him and he knew that."
Is fine dining dead?
Ripert: "Can you go see a concert of U2 and say opera, ballet and the
philharmonic is dead?
... A lot of restaurants that are not upscale are doing very well.
However, fine dining is very healthy and I don't see any signs of that
aspect of the industry dying."
Pepin: "The day it dies people won't buy Mercedes, Lamborghini or any
of those Porsches ..."
On Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen ...
Pepin: "It's a parody of what people often think a chef should be ..."
Ripert: "I refuse the idea of glorifying abuse."
Favorite French comfort food...
Pepin: My mother's
Ripert: French fries
Food they'd eat in an eating contest ...
Least favorite food ...
Favorite meal cooked by their wives ...
Pepin: "My wife was born in New
York city from a Puerto Rican mother and a Cuban father. [Audience goes
So arroz con pollo and some of the stuff she does with pork with black
beans and all that."
Ripert: "My wife is Puerto Rican too. The last experiment was
hard-boiled eggs in the microwave ... "
Ripert on favorite Miami restaurants ...
Casa Tua and Prime 112.
And finally, the quintessential question, if they were on death row
what would be their last meal ...
Pepin: If I'm on death row I couldn't eat.
Bourdain: What do you drink?
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Pepin: A bottle of scotch to make it easier.
Ripert: I'm not sure. A good bottle of Bordeaux and maybe something
like a roasted chicken with wild mushrooms, something that lasts a long