Don’t be fooled by his recent placid hammock naps and sunset beach walks — Eric Ripert seems more than a little curious about a soon-to-open restaurant in North Carolina called Bernardin. On Twitter, the Ripper is wondering aloud what kind of "house warming present" he might send to the unaffiliated restaurant, as well as offering a free dinner to the person who provides the first snapshot of the new restaurant.
Others seem to agree something, ahem, fishy is going on: The chef’s Twitter followers have been proffering suggestions for Gambino-style messages he might send down south to show Bernardin’s chef-owner Freddy Lee what’s what (these include the shopworn severed horse head, a more creative menu-wrapped dead fish, and even a vengeful, pitbull-like Bourdain).
The similar names don’t sound like a mere coincidence, but as if channeling the famous McDowell’s scene in Coming to America, Freddy Lee (who says he worked at Le Bernardin in the eighties), is downright incredulous. He tells the Charlotte Observer that his restaurant is completely different! It’s not even pronounced the same as Le Bernardin, he’ll have you know. "I pronounce it ‘ber-NAR-dins,’" he says, presumably while trying to keep a straight face.
Bernardin’s, less a Le, to open in uptown [Charlotte Observer]
Earlier: Ripert Smoked Cigars and Swung on a Hammock All Summer