When I heard celebrity Chef Eric Ripert was going to appear at my local Whole Foods Arroyo store, I was as excited in a way that surprised even myself, reminding me of my high school and college days of chasing Bono and U2 wherever they would show up!
Not much would get me out on the streets in winter, before dinner, waiting for someone to show up. But I waited over an hour outside without an RSVP hoping to get in to meet him in person! Much to my delight, the RSVP people showed up and were seated, the 'standing rsvp' people were admitted, a large group of Le Cordon Bleu California School of Culinary Arts were seated, and finally everyone standing in the waiting list line entered, with a good 12-14 seats to spare!
Eric Ripert, host of the PBS TV show Avec Eric entered the room and my nervous excitement turned to ease. He was extremely charismatic, intelligent, witty and just smooth. Impossible not to like, and might I add, even more handsome than he appears on TV. Yes his hair is perfect and his French accent does not hurt. Many have seen him in No Reservations, Top Chef, and other shows besides his namesake of Avec Eric.
The event consisted of a screening of the new season of his show, complete with Jose Andres and David Chang appearances. After the screening, he held a Q & A session in which many questions focused on his No Reservations appearances, his lifestyle and inspirations. I even got to ask my own, based on his defense of fine dining in the Anthony Bourdain No Reservations recent Paris episode in which Chef Ripert appears.
Whole Foods conveniently sold a limited amount of his cookbook Avec Eric and DVD of season 1 of the show, which he then signed for his fans. Even those without books were given flyers with recipes for him to sign as well.
As of yet, I have not had a chance to visit the famous chef's NYC 3 Michelin star restaurant Le Bernadin, but all attendees got to taste one of his delicious recipes from the book, a vegetable fried rice. It was another added treat to this well planned, intimate event.
I wish I could have extended my one-on-one time with him, but it was still great. He pronounced my unique name perfectly, posed for a photo, signed my copy ofh is cookbook and made wonderful eye contact. It was a lovely evening!