Eric Ripert — Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness (#268)

Photo cred: Nigel Parry

“Anger doesn’t help to create quality.”

– Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert (@ericripert) is recognized as one of the best chefs in the world. In 1995, at just 29 years old, he earned a four-star rating from The New York Times. Twenty years later and for the fifth consecutive time, Le Bernardin, where Eric is the chef and a co-owner, again earned the highest rating of four stars, becoming the only restaurant to maintain this superior status for such a marathon length of time. In 1998, the James Beard Foundation named him Top Chef in New York City and, in 2003, Outstanding Chef of the Year.

In 2009, Avec Eric, his first TV show, debuted and ran for two seasons, earning two Daytime Emmy Awards. It returned for a third season on the Cooking Channel in 2015. Eric has also hosted the show On the Table on YouTube, which debuted in July 2012, and he has appeared in media worldwide. He is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line, Avec Eric, and several other books.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Daily routines
  • Conquering weakness and anger
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • The art of hiring
  • And much, much more

Please enjoy this wide-ranging conversation with Eric Ripert!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#268: Eric Ripert -- Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness

Want to hear another podcast with a world-class chef and entrepreneur? — Listen to my conversation with Andrew Zimmern. In this episode, we discuss his meditation practice, morning routines, and creative process (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep 40: Andrew Zimmern on Simple Cooking Tricks, Developing TV, and Addiction

This podcast is brought to you by Athletic GreensI get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic GreensIt is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. As a listener of The Tim Ferriss Show, you’ll get 30 percent off your first order at

This podcast is also brought to you by Four SigmaticI reached out to these Finnish entrepreneurs after a very talented acrobat introduced me to one of their products, which blew my mind (in the best way possible). It is mushroom coffee featuring chaga. It tastes like coffee, but there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine, so it has less than half of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It put me on fire for an entire day, and I only had half of the packet.

People are always asking me what I use for cognitive enhancement right now — this is the answer. You can try it right now by going to and using the code Tim to get 20 percent off your first order. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Eric Ripert:

Avec Eric | Le Bernardin | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Show Notes

  • My first exposure to Eric. [06:31]
  • When hiring, what does Eric look for in a good line cook? [08:02]
  • How does Eric identify a natural team player? [11:43]
  • Eric is slow to hire — is he quick to fire? [14:36]
  • What makes Eric’s office unique? [15:42]
  • As a Buddhist, what mantras does Eric look to for guidance? [19:13]
  • Eric talks about his pre-Buddhist days as a demanding “borderline violent dictator” of a chef. [21:06]
  • Was there a particular moment of epiphany that triggered Eric’s change for the better? [26:54]
  • How does Eric convince sous chefs and other staff to be kinder and gentler when they’re as abusive as he once was? [28:36]
  • Where has Eric found the balance between kindness and enforcing the discipline necessary to maintain high quality? [33:57]
  • On understanding anger and taming it with the right tools — particularly meditation. [37:07]
  • Eric’s typical morning habits and practices. [41:53]
  • How does Eric remind himself to be grateful to be alive? [50:03]
  • Eric drinks coffee before he meditates. What kind does he favor, and how is it prepared? [51:27]
  • What does Eric like to read? [54:23]
  • Eric explains the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. [55:17]
  • A quick and simple way to challenge the ultimate truth. [1:00:37]
  • How Thich Nhat Hanh and Tara Brach got me to pay attention to spirituality in spite of a lifelong aversion to it. [1:02:31]
  • The book that changed Eric’s life. [1:05:31]
  • Overlap between Stoicism and secular Buddhism. [1:10:37]
  • Rejecting dogma, conquering ignorance (“the root of all weaknesses”), and the three poisons of the mind. [1:13:37]
  • Weighing quality vs. scale. [1:21:20]
  • How Eric got involved in the culinary world. [1:30:37]
  • Eric moved to the United States in 1989 “without speaking a word of English.” [1:32:32]
  • When did Eric think of cooking as something at which he could excel rather than just another job? [1:33:42]
  • Can Eric cook as well as his mother? [1:37:01]
  • Why does Eric use non-artisanal Swiss cheese to calibrate his palate? [1:39:31]
  • What Eric wishes home cooks would use more — and less. [1:42:13]
  • What’s Eric’s favorite cocktail? [1:46:03]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:46:37]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

27 Replies to “Eric Ripert — Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness (#268)”

  1. Hi Tim, this is unrelated but I wanted to find the quickest way possible to thank you. To launch my business I’ve employed many of your tips from this blog, especially regarding building a network and meeting exceptional people. This all culminated when I met HRH The Duke of York, Prince Andrew. HRH has now placed me in touch with incredible contacts so I can progress my venture – [Moderator: venture name removed]. Thanks Tim for your commitment to this community – I know I speak for many when I say that I am grateful for your amazing efforts.

  2. Hello dear Tim,

    The Rumi quote you’re pondering in today’s 5-Bullet Friday is actually from “A Course in Miracles” scribed by Helen Schucman (Textbook, Chapter 16, Section IV, paragraph 6).

    Thanks so much for all you do for and give to the world! Much love!

  3. Please let me know if/when your new book is available on Audible. I find the only way I can make time to “read” books is if I listen to them.

  4. Tim, loved the first chapter from your book – I loved the questions you asked yourself, the questions you asked your mentors (and the break down of why you ask them the way you do)… and I really really loved the quote you shared from your driftwood “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anaïs Nin. I will be using that in a blog post of my own. Thanks so much 🙂

  5. One of the personalities I admire the most comes from the same background as Eric Ripert. Ultra perfectionist 3 Michelin stars Spanish chef Dabiz Muñoz, a TV celebrity in his country with restaurants in London and NYC, he is even sponsored by Nike.

    I would love him being interviewed on Tim’s podcast. 🙂

  6. Disappointing that both the vitamins and coffee mentioned frequently in the podcasts do not ship to the UK. Maybe there should be a mention of this in the podcast script? I did manage to source the coffee elsewhere, but had to email a few times to get the relevant info.

  7. Thank you Tim and Eric for this amazing episode filled with passion for food, quiet pursuit of mastery, professional mastery, life mastery, mind mastery.

    From every bite of the conversation I learned something about living a good life as a better self. Always learning, always improving, celebrating the BIG wins, enjoying the “small” moments. Staying humble pursuing mastery.

    Definitly learned a lot about Buddhism and picked up some tools to improve my meditative practices.

    And now can’t wait to visit Le Bernardin!

    Thank you Tim and Eric! Amazing episode!

  8. Here is an idea, drunk Q and A with Anthony Bourdain! This was a great podcast with Eric. The insight to the world of high performance chefery (sic) covered a lot of useful approaches that I have found to be most helpful in life.

  9. Tim Ferriss, how did you adquired the initial resources to be able to create QuickBrain? I.e. Where did you get your starting money?

  10. Hey Tim,

    Not sure if this will reach you so just putting it out there. Looking forward to the new book, but your question about young people starting out in the workforce made me wonder why you didn’t ask, or don’t seem to ask, about older folks since you just turned 40.

    More specifically, how about middle-aged people like me who haven’t reached the amount of success you did — how might they turn things around, how could they reinvent themselves, or just how can they power through the days with optimism instead of despair?

    I think it might be an interesting angle to explore, especially if you get people on your podcast who succeeded late in life. Anthony Bourdain would be a great example, maybe Eric Ripert could help you with that!

    Anyway, best of luck, and maybe this idea would float its way into your inbox one day.

  11. Such a great episode. THANK YOU Tim. I enjoyed every bit of it.

    Very happy to hear that you are lowering your guards towards this aspect of “spirituality” or the isms as you mentioned. I get that very much since I also felt that when I first got into reading and researching into buddhism and the eastern philosophies. When we had that conversation at Piknik Elektronik in Montreal a few months back, I sensed some hesitation when I asked you about stoicism vs. eastern spirituality and I think now i understand better why.

    Anyhow, very happy to hear.

    Also, I can definitely recommend a buddhist monastery near Yangon, Myanmar, for a 10 day Vipassana, if you think of doing it in the birth place of Vipassana, that is Myanmar 🙂

    All the best.


  12. Question related to recent podcast regarding sleep onset insomnia. You mentioned taking SMALL doses (5mg) each of Lithium Orotate AND NAC.


    DOSES from a 100mg. capsule ?

    just guesstimate??

  13. I agree with your correlation between Stoicism and Buddhism. I learned Buddhism first and then Stoicism, but I use both perspectives regularly as I navigate my day to day life. As you delve deeper into the secular Buddhist practices I think you’ll find this similarity getting stronger. I’d be interested to hearing about your 10 day retreat. Like the physical things you’ve accomplished, I believe you will find it quite challenging and an opportunity for growth.

  14. Tim and Eric, this was a favourite episode (listener since day 1) that I will no doubt be recommending and going back to. I very much valued the length and depth of Eric’s answers and story of change and how times have changed. And how latterly but quickly, your success in the kitchen (and spiritually!) came – it seems through inward and outward leadership, and deep understanding of what motivates and brings the best out in ourselves.

    Thank you both for very open discussion of your personal moments of darkness. Funny, though Eric, to hear such a gentle and measured tone of voice uttering “I was a terror”!

  15. Just a little quick feedback on your cookbook recently shared via email: the file repeats the contents within, so each recipe appears twice if printed. I imagine you’re a bit of a perfectionist, so thanks in advance for putting up with a bit of my OCD tendency…

    (Email said not to reply, and to instead post a comment to the blog, but I don’t intend for it to linger beyond your notification.)

  16. Hi Tim and Eric, just wanted to let you know I enjoyed your discussion a lot.

    – Tim the book you were looking for midway into the interview is “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh. I bought it after hearing about it from Kevin Rose on episode 171. It’s a wonderful book, I encourage people to get it. It is only 150 pages long, and the huge font size makes it more like a 75 pages long read. I also liked the “mindfulness while washing dishes” example, but for me the biggest aha was when he mentions our brains are actually not resting when we sleep, so it is when we are awake that we need to make a conscious effort to give our brain a break (he then proceeds by explain how). I didn’t see this one coming at all.

    – While listening to Eric, one thing that stroke me about Buddhism is how it ultimately seemed to allow one to experience the notion of “interconnection of all things” – and how close this notion is to the life-changing therapeutic effect of hallucinogens mentioned in an article you recently posted (Crash course in the nature of mind) – where one participant describes being “struck by the sound of leaves rustling in the wind” and feeling “a deep sense of kinship with the trees and with nature.” Maybe Buddhism and meditation are a way to get to the same “place”, but at a slower pace. I am an engineer so have a hard time with stuff like that, but I am starting to believe it kind of makes sense.

    – A bit off topic, but in your last podcast you mentioned a white noise tool to be helping with your sleep. I wanted to add that light intensity and color prior to sleep is also extremely important. Studies from the NASA show that blue wavelengths are disruptive to sleep because they prevent the production of melatonin. This is one more reason to avoid screens before bed and read a book (like The Miracle of Mindfulness ; ).

    Thanks to both of you for a great discussion.

    1. Hey Etienne,

      You should look into “Stealing Fire” by Jamie Wheal. TimTim has a few words in the preface but Jamie helps break down the whole “mystic, seeker” way while showing the correlations between being a psychonaut.

      Spoiler alert: its all about achieving “flow” and shutting down the ego while letting the show go on.

      Cheers mate,


      1. Thanks Mickey, first time I hear about it – looking forward to reading it!

        Also forgot to mention: major props to you Tim for interviewing a chef in the middle of a fast.

  17. “The Secret Oral Teaching of Tibetan Buddhist Sects”

    by Alexandria David Neal

    Shhh, don’t tell everyone, but that there is the secret sauce.

  18. Hi Tim. I know you interview elite athletes. Have you ever interviewed a ballet dancer? Since you are in San Francisco, there are world class professionals at the San Francisco ballet. Also, have you ever taken ballet classes? San Francisco ballet has a beginner ballet series for people who have never danced before.

    Thank you.

  19. Tim

    I think you missed an important question for Eric. How does he justify adhering to Buddhist teachings and owning a restaurant that depends on the suffering of animals? Gary

  20. Interesting interview with Eric. You may have discussed and perhaps I missed, but how does Eric being a Buddhist reconcile with no harm to animals and his profession.

  21. Hi Tim, I feel like it’s not a coincidence that I listened to this podcast just last weekend and had Eric on my mind as I dipped my toe into meditating. A man who is trying to manifest peace and love in his world is going to have a hard time dealing with the loss of such a close friend and the darkness that comes with grief. I guess I just wanted to say thank you for the great episode and for giving Eric a chance to passionately share his world view. Please join me this week in holding him in love and light