Flying High on Four Stars

When The New York Times bestowed its fourth consecutive four-star rating on Le Bernardin earlier this month, the restaurant became one of only five in New York to win such an honor–and the only one to retain it for nearly 20 years. For chef Eric Ripert, who has been toiling in Le Bernardin’s kitchen for more than a decade, the award was a great thrill, as well as a huge relief. (The loss of a star can have a serious impact on the restaurant’s bottom line.)Over a recent lunch that began with barely cooked bay scallops in champagne-shallot butter sauce, followed by poached lobster in a rich champagne and chives nage and thinly pounded yellowfin tuna with extra-virgin olive oil, Ripert discussed the achievement. As the starter plates were cleared for the arrival of the main courses (wild salmon and spicy-sour baked snapper), Ripert, 40, admitted behaving like a World Series champ when the rating was announced. “As soon as we knew, I came up in the kitchen and I sprayed the entire team…

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