Special Sauce: Eric Ripert on the Making of His Memoir and What Inspires Him

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[Photograph: Daniel Krieger]

I used to think of Le Bernardin chef–restaurateur Eric Ripert as a smart, impossibly charming and handsome chef's chef. But between interviewing him for Special Sauce and reading his moving and evocative memoir, 32 Yolks, I've since realized that there's a lot more to the man than what we see on Top Chef and his own Emmy Award–winning show, Avec Eric.

On this week's episode of Special Sauce, Ripert talks openly and honestly about his difficult childhood. The famed chef lost his father as a teenager, not long after his parents had gone through an emotionally freighted divorce; when his mother remarried, it was to a man who mistreated her son in just about every way imaginable. We learn what inspired Ripert to become a chef at an unusually young age, and we hear just how focused and dedicated you have to be to become a great chef—of his experiences working with the legendary French master Joël Robuchon, Ripert says silence was the highest compliment Robuchon could pay anyone in his kitchen.

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[Cheese photograph: Alice Gao]