Open Letter to Eric Ripert: Avec Alan? How about Avec Julia?

Look, I’m no blind booster of Westchester County. There’s a lot that we don’t have—Vietnamese, Chinese on par with Flushing, or even a single Grand Sichuan outlet. We don’t have a Momofuku. We don’t have Le Bernardin. But that doesn’t mean we eat at Costco.

In this joking video riff on Eric Ripert’s PBS cooking show, Avec Eric, GQ’s Alan Richman invites Eric Freakin’ Ripert to Westchester County to explore the market that “epitomizes what Westchester dining is all about.” So Richman takes Ripert to the Port Chester Costco. Har…is that a Polish joke I hear?

- Advertisement -

The notion that Metro-North drops its riders in a vast prairie of Walmarts and Burger Kings is a cheap snicker. Plus, it’s been done to death, most shamefully in the Times, where its suburban editors thought it would be hilarious to send their restaurant critics to chain restaurants—many national—like Red Lobster. And what does that have to do with this region, exactly? Richman, there are other places to shop in Westchester. How about continue a mile down the road to The Kneaded Bread? There, Ripert won’t have to eat the weirdly sweet (albeit warm) loaves with ingredient lists as long as your arm. The Kohns use a ten-year-old natural yeast starter and carefully sourced grains. Their bread is frequently warm, too.

In the clip, Richman claims that “you can get cheese in Westchester—you can’t get much else.” So he gives Ripert the rubber, mass-produced blocks (aged in plastic, dead as Michael Jackson) of the sort that you find at Costco. Can I make a suggestion? How about take Ripert to any of Westchester’s cheese markets—or tootle two stinkin’ miles down the road to Rye’s June & Ho, where you’ll find all sorts of perfectly ripe cheeses, plus La Tienda chorizo, President butter, et al, so that the exquisite Mr. Ripert would feel as though he were right at home in Andorra. If that’s not enough, June & Ho smoke their own salmon—it might be fun for Ripert to give it a try. (Plus, the poor germophobe might bring himself to touch the June & Ho basket; Ripert refused to touch the Costco cart.)

And what’s with the self-loathing, Alan? You live in Westchester—do you do your food shopping at Costco? It would have been a good bit—Eric Ripert Goes to Costco—if you didn’t bring in all that creepy, self-loathing Westchester-bashing. It feels to me like those Brooklyn hipsters—two months out of a dorm, still storing clothes in their teenage Westchester bedrooms—posing around with American Spirits and whining about the “’burbs.” You look like you’re a couple of years out of skinny jeans—isn’t there some real food in Westchester? (Hint: BHSB might be a good place to start (hello farm fresh eggs), though we have scores of actual farmers markets. In fact, the Rye market is only a couple of miles from the Port Chester Costco.)

Finally, if you really needed a national chain, you could have taken the sublime Chef Ripert to Whole Foods Market—which has outlets in Manhattan—or even to Trader Joe’s. I’m not claiming that either of those markets wouldn’t offend Ripert’s sensibilities, but those two stores are probably closer to “epitomizing what Westchester dining is all about.”

Chef Ripert, please, please don’t judge us by Costco. There is real food in Westchester. Your peers Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali are opening a food market a stone’s throw from that Port Chester Costco, Fairway is coming to Pelham, BHSB is here, and there are tons of smaller purveyors already existing that can provide the human connection that you miss from the marketing of your youth. (And just try a human connection at Murray’s on a Saturday.) Chef, let me show you the real food shopping in Westchester…avec Julia.

- Partner Content -

But enough about me. Where would you take Chef Ripert? Drop us a line…we’d love to hear from you.