Bourdain’s Field Notes
Those of you who’ve been following the show over the years know there are few things I love more than torturing my good friend Eric Ripert—or at least putting him in awkward situations. As a distinguished three-Michelin-starred chef and a chevalier in France’s Legion of Honor, he has a reputation to protect. I, thankfully, do not.
Initially I thought this show in the French Alps would provide him the opportunity for a measure of revenge. Eric grew up in a similarly mountainous region of the Pyrenees. He’s an expert skier. And he’s French.
Surely the picturesque and very steep slopes of Chamonix would prove fertile ground for ample payback. The rich, cheese-heavy cuisine of the region would be another day at the office for him—and a colon-blocking nightmare for me. My skills as a skier, honed on the crusty slopes of northern New Jersey, would be laughably inadequate on the Alps’ heavily moguled deep powder. And my neurotic fear and aversion to Alpine vistas and nearby Switzerland ought to give the erudite Frenchman many opportunities for mockery.
And, in fact, the terrifying slopes were difficult for me.
The relentless tsunami of molten dairy products did cause me some distress.
And I’d sure as shit never milked a f***ing cow before.
But during filming a thematic thread emerged from nowhere. An evil genie in my brain appeared, inspired by a late-night read of my friend’s excellent memoir, 32 Yolks. The book chronicles young Eric’s rise through the celebrated kitchens of France, his transformation from lonely country bumpkin to trusted underboss of perhaps the greatest chef in the world.