Ripert to Bourdain and Batali: ‘Jersey Shore’ Kid Dined at Le Bern

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Photo: Patrick McMullan

Last night, as promised, a self-described “very nervous Anthony Bourdain” took to the airwaves with “master of the culinary universe” Eric Ripert. Bourdain played bad cop (“I lost, like, eight pounds and ten years of my life in those 26 minutes,” he said of their appearance on Martha Stewart’s show) while Ripert was good cop (“I think she’s shy so she comes out looking tough, but she’s not”), and it went on like that, with the Frenchman getting ribbed for drinking only Bordeaux (“It’s your fault if you drink garbage wine,” he said) as well as refusing to admit that he’d prefer a street taco over a fancy meal at one of Alain Ducasse’s restaurants (“He’s been beaten up so much — I’m loyal to my friends”). The show’s guest, Mario Batali, also poked fun at him for seemingly cooking endangered bluefin tuna on Letterman (Ripert said it was farm-raised), but nothing could crack the Ripper’s cool. He even admitted to liking Guy Fieri, to Bourdain’s disbelief. Here’s what else the superfriends opined on.

On the Closing of El Bulli
Batali: “They never ever make money. I don’t know how that works, because in a kitchen of 46 there were only three paid people.”
Bourdain: “When people look back on El Bulli, it’s going to be like, well, you either saw Jimi Hendrix live or you didn’t … I think Ferran just got tired of being Ferran … Ferran always told me it was never a profitable venture for them& #133; He said [he was losing] 500,000 euros per year … Ferran told me that for six months of the year he was an artist, and for the other six months he was a prostitute.”
Batali: “Maybe he just wants to live on the coast of Italy, like all the Italian movie stars do, eating linguine and clams.”

On the Pinot Noir Wine Scandal
Batali: “Is it a crime to sell bad wine to Gallo? They’ve been selling bad wine for years.” Batali said that as punishment, the defrauders “should probably have to drink Gallo’s wine for ten years,” but later backpedaled and said, “I actually like Gallo’s wines these days, they’re actually not bad.”

On Jersey Shore
Bourdain is “completely obsessed” with the show, and Ripert revealed that one of the castmembers (he doesn’t know which) came into Le Bernardin last week.

On Ruth Reichl
During a segment called “The Tao of Ruth,” Bourdain observed that “she’s living inside an M.F.K. Fisher novel” as he read her recent tweets over zen music. “What kind of life does this woman live? I don’t live a life anything like this, and I travel all over the world.”

On Bone Marrow
Bourdain: “If God made butter it would taste exactly like bone marrow.”

On Selling Out
Bourdain: “Before you opened Babbo you were anointed — you were adorable Mario from the Food Network. You could’ve opened up Mario’s Old Spaghetti Factory across America, serving overcooked spaghetti with tomato sauce … ”
Ripert: “That was Rocco.”

On Future Food Trends
Bourdain: “I’m thinking tongue is the next big thing, the next trendy food.”
Batali: “I’d like to see the lower fifth of the exit canal being something that’s interesting, in terms of chitterling or the dirty sausages that the French make.”

On Le Bernardin’s Least Popular Item
Ripert: “Fresh sardines. They were not grilled but they were good … seared skin-side down, super-crunchy and very rare, and we were serving them with a tomato sauce, actually. [Everyone laughs, because Ripert had previously said he only uses tomato sauce in staff meals.] We call it compote.”

On a Cage Match Between Sandra Lee and Martha Stewart
Batali: “It’ll be a Sandra Lee Kwanzaa cake bloodbath. Sandra Lee would go down in a second.”
Ripert: “I actually have a vision of Martha throwing a can of Campbell’s soup in her head and getting her down immediately.”

On the Best Thing They’ve Eaten Recently
Ripert: 80-pound spit-roasted lechon.
Bourdain: The uni and lardo sandwich at Marea: “You shove that into your face and your eyes just roll up into your skull and you want to black out.”
Batali: Woodcock, “the brain of which was served inside the brain itself, inside the head,” at London restaurant St. John.

Turn and Burn [Martha Stewart]