Eric Ripert — Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness

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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!

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#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


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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

Posted on: September 29, 2017.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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23 comments on “Eric Ripert — Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness

  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.

    Like

  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!

    Like

  3. 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 🙂

    Like

  4. 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. 🙂

    Like

  5. 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.

    Like

  6. 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!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 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.

    Like

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

    Like

  9. 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.

    Like

  10. 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.
    Sahar

    Like

  11. Question related to recent podcast regarding sleep onset insomnia. You mentioned taking SMALL doses (5mg) each of Lithium Orotate AND NAC.
    HOW DO YOU TITRATE THESE SMALL
    DOSES from a 100mg. capsule ?
    just guesstimate??

    Like

  12. 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.

    Like

  13. 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”!

    Like

  14. 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.

    Like

    • 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,
      Mickey

      Like

      • 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.

        Like

  15. 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.

    Like

  16. 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

    Like