June 16, 2010 01:00 PM by Nancy Floyd
French-born chef, Eric Ripert, has been featured onÂ Bravo‘s hit cooking competition,Â Top Chef as a guest judge, but these season he’s been promoted. The culinary genius has been bumped up to a series regular, appearing as a recurring guest each week. The new season ofÂ Top Chef, set in Washington D.C., kicks off tonight. Keep reading for more details on Ripert’s new gig…
Eric Ripert is no stranger toÂ Top Chef. The chef served as a guest judge during previous seasons ofÂ Bravo‘s culinary competition, but this year, as the contest moves to Washington D.C., he’s earned a permanent spot on the judging panel. He’s excited about the new opportunity, although being a recurring judge is certainly different than guest judging. “Itâ€™s a little bit different. When youâ€™re the guest, you judge the Quickfire [challenge],” Ripert says. “You have a direct interaction with the candidates. You talk to them a bit and give them tips. When youâ€™re the permanent judge, you basically never interact with them until they present their dish.”
Although his new gig as a recurringÂ Top Chef judge keeps him from getting to know the contestants personally, Ripert doesn’t seem to mind. “Iâ€™m not judging them on their personality,” he says. “I just judge them on what I see on the plate. It makes it easy for me. Itâ€™s amazing.Â I have a tendency to forget their names, but when weâ€™re talking about the dish, I remember every detail.”
Ripert is also excited about the location of this season ofÂ Top Chef. Filming in Washington D.C. allowed for amazing guest appearances (from the likes of Buzz Aldrin, Nancy Pelosi, and White House Chef Sam Kass) and also some interesting shooting locations. “We shot in the executive dining room of the director of the CIA. That was an amazing experience,” Ripert says. “What I remember is that some of the CIA employees were laughing because basically the secret was so well-kept that nobody at the CIA knew that we were shooting. AndÂ Top Chef has a crew of about 100 people. But nobody in the CIA knew!”
One person who is excited about the addition of Ripert isÂ Top Chef host, Padma Lakshmi. “He has more stars from theÂ New York Times and Michelin than any other chef on the continent,” says Lakshmi of Ripert. “He brings that gravitas with him.”
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Photo Courtesy of Bravo