Le Bernardin’s Ripert unmasks Times critic.
When the staff of Le Bernardin got the news late last Tuesday that the Times had awarded the restaurant four stars—yet again—champagne was corked and and caviar consumed in an impromptu kitchen party. Losing a star means losing up to 25 percent of your income, said chef Eric Ripert, who recounted how Times critic Frank Bruni made his first of five visits on Christmas Eve—at 10 P.M. “It was the first time I’ve seen a critic on a holiday,” Ripert said. “I came right up to him and said, ‘You are recognized,’ which you’re not supposed to do. He said, ‘You are not supposed to recognize me,’ and I said, ‘If I recognize someone in my restaurant, I think it is rude not to say hello.’ He was not thrilled.” Bruni wouldn’t comment on his strategies for avoiding being recognized (“It’s a no-win answer”). “We were worried it would influence his review,” said a relieved Ripert.
—Deborah Schoeneman and Beth Landman