How To Throw The Perfect Party, According To Eric Ripert
On the evening of his recent cookbook launch, the Michelin star chef and TV personality gave us his tips on company and canapés.
Last week, I was delighted to have my cardinal bite at New York’s “Temple of Seafood”, Le Bernardin. Unfortunately, on a writer’s salary, I was not there to sit down for the $298 chef’s tasting menu (that remains vaulted for a special occasion of all special occasions.) I was there doing what I do best – making a meal out of the complimentary light bites served at a press event.
The restaurant’s beloved chef Éric Ripert hosted fellow gourmands, food and wine editors, and several members of the old-guard, uptown social scene for the launch of his new cookbook, Seafood Simple. The name lives up to the recipes within. After flipping through the book, I jokingly summarized it to a friend: “Acquire freshly-caught bluefin Otoro from the butcher at an ancient Japanese monastery. Salty lightly. Serve.”
Jokes aside, the canapés floating around Le Bernardin’s hallowed dining room sampled recipes from the book: the scallop ceviche was light as a feather, shocked by a lightning bolt of lemon, the satisfying crunch of the smoked salmon “croque-monsieur” conjured visions of a young Ripert comforted by his grandmother (for whom the recipe is dedicated to) and the tarragon lobster bisque was a herbal howdy of frothed summertime flavors.
Language a little too flowery for you? Well, as I mentioned, these canapés are probably the closest I’ll get to a meal at Le Bernardin until I get married to like, a distant member of royalty. So I was savoring each bite with an extra dose of melodrama.
One member of the party that is far more familiar with Ripert’s hosting sensibilities was Candace Bushnell, who owns a home in the Hamptons near Ripert’s. The sage author – in a tone similar to how her famous protagonist Carrie Bradshaw announced that she uses her oven to store stilettos – “The snacks I serve are terrible! I serve pigs-in-a-blanket and shrimp cocktail.”
When I finally got my facetime in with the chef, I asked him what makes a perfect canapé, seeing as I was so smitten by the ones I’d eaten thus far. More specifically, I asked him how to he’d serve the ones that Ms. Bushnell prefers.
“Okay, take the shrimp cocktail,” he mused. “The size matters. It shouldn’t be too big. The shrimp should be something you can put in your mouth in one bite. It shouldn’t be two or three bites to eat a shrimp. You’re holding a glass and a plate, so you don’t want to hold too much. Oysters are perfect.”
By the time the Bernardin-signature homemade Oreos came out, the crowd was getting a little tipsy on Bollinger, the two were telling me about the rules of a perfect dinner party at the Ripert’s. “He only likes to invite 10 or 12 people,” said Bushnell. “So that people can really talk.”
With a twinkle in his eye, Ripert said, “I want a party that is very convivial. I want people to have fun and be fun.”