Eric Ripert is so devoted to Tibet that he even went to India to say hello to the Dalai Lama. And last night, the Ripper devoted the formidable resources of Le Bernardin’s private dining salon to a benefit for the Tibetan Aid Project. Five of the country’s top chefs cooked five courses: Michel Richard, whose Central in D.C. just won the Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, made a mind-blowing lobster-pear vichyssoise; Yosuke Suga from the Atelier de Joël Robuchon prepared pan-sautéed amadai in a yuzu-citrus broth; Jennie Lorenzo of the Fifth Floor in San Francisco served a sous vide chicken and langoustine pair; Ripert made his magnificent escolar with red-wine béarnaise sauce (still the greatest fish known to man, even if it does supposedly cause orange diarrhea); Alfredo Ayala of Delirio restaurant in Puerto Rico brought a roasted pork loin; and Le Bernardin’s sweets guy, Michael Laiskonis, closed with Gianduja cream, Oregon hazelnuts, honey, banana, and brown-butter ice cream. Prior to the meal, all five chefs were presented by the Tibetan Aid Society with Tibetan shawls, a traditional form of thanks, and posed proudly with them in the kitchen. The benefit raised an undisclosed bundle for the cause of buying sacred books for Tibet, and there were no empty seats. Next year, in fact, Ripert plans to close the whole restaurant down and do it in the main room.
From left, Alfredo Ayala, Eric Ripert, Yosuke Suga, Michel Richard, and Jennie Lorenzo. Photo: Lyn Hughes