Eric Ripert’s forced shopping trip to Costco caught on camera
On the PBS television show Avec Eric, Le Bernardin’s head chef, Eric Ripert, retreats to nature looking for five-star meal ideas, then teaches the audience how to cook as though three Michelin stars depend on it. GQ recently put a joyous twist on this concept, sending Ripert and James Beard award–winning journalist Alan Richman down the canyon-like aisles of Costco, hoping to expose the world-class chef to how the other half (well, the other 95 per cent) eats. It is the first, and most likely last, episode of Avec Alan.Ripert, whose idea of bargain shopping is likely a visit to Dean and DeLuca, is horrified by Costco’s “emergency room” lighting and decadent abundance, and the bizarre proximity of sweat pants to Christmas trees and torso-size jars of mayo. “The store has no life and no contact with anything that comes from the earth,” laments Ripert. “I see tomatoes a color I have never seen.”
When Richman takes to the kitchen to prepare a meal with their Costco haul, Ripert’s fears are quelled. He admits that the meal, right down to the frozen quiche and farmed salmon, is excellent. “The salad, the mashed potatoes, the meat, all delicious,” he said. Richman even impressed himself, preparing a perfect Julia Child–style soufflé that Ripert could not get over.
The lesson here is that scary suburban food can be salvaged, as long as you have a high-quality French recipe, years of experience and a budget from Condé Nast.
• Avec Alan: Chef Eric Ripert sits down for a meal at Alan Richman’s table [GQ]