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Talking at the Pass: Chefs Eric Ripert and Jennifer Carroll

At the Pass

By Nevin Martell

Introducing a new series where mentors and their now independently successful disciples reunite to chat about their time together and what they learned from each other. Our first installment features celebrated chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin and Jennifer Carroll, a breakout star on Top Chef and the chef-partner of Requin.

Eric, what was your first impression of Jennifer?

Eric Ripert: When we hired Jen in 2003, we were impressed with her personality, her skills, her motivation, and passion to learn. At that very young age, she had her own vision of opening a restaurant and doing something on her own one day. So, we were very impressed by that drive.

Jennifer Carroll: I wanted to learn from the best and work at the best place possible. I was all about seafood, so the best and only place for me to go was Le Bernardin. I walked in off the street and dropped my résumé off. They called me to come in for a stage. I was so nervous and excited at the same time. It’s very intimidating walking into that kitchen. There are 40 cooks, and everyone is working and moving.

When Eric came in and I got to meet him, I totally froze. It was something I was looking forward to for so many years. I can’t even put into words how much that day and that meeting changed my life.

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This Week in Restaurant News: Modern Bartenders, Restaurant Empires, Why You Should Follow the Coffee Shops

Every week we’re rounding up some of our favorite articles with trends and tidbits from the world of restaurants. Tell us: what made your reading list this week?

You Don’t Need a Restaurant Empire to Be a Successful Chef — Eater

Twitter Embraces #foodporn, Signs Partnership with 17 Top Chefs — Mashable

Rethinking the Modern BartenderLucky Peach

Danny Meyer: Restaurateurs Should Follow the Coffee Shops (VIDEO)New York Business Journal

This Is the Reason Urban Outfitters Bought a Pizza Chain — Bloomberg Pursuits

‘Our Posture Towards New Foods Goes from Skepticism to Re-evaluation to the Upscaling of It.’ — The Splendid Table

Lettuce Entertain You CEO Talks Secrets of Success, Warm Climate ExpansionChicago Tribune

6 Startling Facts About Child Hunger in the U.S. — and How You Can Help — Mashable

Even Celebrity Chefs Struggle With New Restaurants in the Hamptons The Wall Street Journal

There’s a Quiet Vegan Revolution Taking Hold in Dallas RestaurantsThe Dallas Morning NewsRead more

Bringing Back a Historic Restaurant: Chef Chris Lusk on The Caribbean Room 

Bringing Back a Historic Restaurant: Chef Chris Lusk on The Caribbean Room 

Last month the John Besh group reopened New Orleans’ historic Caribbean Room, a restaurant in the Pontchartrain Hotel, after a $10 million renovation and enormous anticipation from the local community.

The hotel was built in the 1920s, and in its heyday of the 1960s and ’70s the Caribbean Room was a destination for birthdays and anniversaries. Up until Hurricane Katrina hit, the room was used primarily for banquet functions, and after the storm it became a luxury apartment building. In 2013 it shifted back into a hotel — and the Caribbean Room is once again one of a handful of grand New Orleans restaurants with a long, rich history.

At the helm of the new kitchen is Chris Lusk, a longtime New Orleans chef who formerly worked at Commander’s Palace and Restaurant R’evolution, in addition to restaurants in New York City and Austin.

“This was an opportunity to bring back something so historic and ingrained in the landscape and culture of New Orleans,” he says. “It was a daunting task, but it was something they felt it was important to have available to the people of New Orleans — especially the people who never really got to experience it.”

Locals and visitors have flocked to the newly reopened space, regaling the team with memories of dining there as a teenager with their parents and grandparents. They remember the mile-high pie, the colorful murals, and the sophisticated crowd celebrating special occasions in their best suits and dresses. “It makes you feel like you’re really part of something special.”

Here’s how Chris and the team revived the space, the food, and the atmosphere of one of New Orleans’ classic restaurants, putting the locals and their memories first.Read more

Raising the Bar: 3 Ways to Create Exceptional Dining Experiences at Your Bar

Raising the Bar: 3 Ways to Create Exceptional Dining Experiences at Your Bar

“You can’t treat the bar as overflow for the dining room.”

At Bistro Bordeaux in Evanston, a Chicago suburb, owner Pascal Berthoumieux manages the dining room at the French bistro and keeps an eye on the cozy, six-seat bar. “We’re not really a ‘bar,’ we’re a restaurant,” he says. Still, he and his team work to create a bar atmosphere that offers the same amount of hospitality guests find in the dining room.

When thinking about your guests’ dining experience, do you think of the dinner table? The bar is becoming another area of your restaurant that requires just as much consideration. What used to be a space where diners ended up when they didn’t have a reservation or only wanted a drink is now a viable part of any restaurant operation.

Many of today’s diners have no problem forgoing a dinner table in favor of sitting on a bar stool, or at a communal table at their favorite restaurant — and they expect excellent food, drink, and service when they sit there.

In OpenTable’s first-ever Insider Survey Series, 48% of restaurant owners and operators who responded said they accept reservations for the bar or want to do so, and 91% of respondents said it’s a smart move to invest in a bar program. A successful bar program is a part of a successful restaurant.

At de Quay, a warm, Dutch-inspired restaurant with a standout wine and beer program, the bar seats are a coveted area of the dining room.… Read more