Celebrity Chefs Visit West Michigan

Chefs Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain in Grand Rapids, February 19, 2012

Two of the world's most famous chefs stopped by Grand Rapids Sunday evening for a wide-ranging conversation in front of an enthusiastic audience at DeVos Performance Hall.

Anthony Bourdain, host of numerous national food and travel shows, and Eric Ripert, television personality and chef at New York City's Le Bernardin, hosted an evening entitled "Good vs. Evil."

Throughout the evening, Bourdain did his best to play up his reputation as an outspoken bad boy in the culinary world, highlighting his often-public feuds with other cooks like the Food Network's Paula Deen as well as his disdain for vegetarians.

Meanwhile, Ripert spoke primarily about his efforts to do good in the world by promoting sustainable food, especially as it relates to fish.  Le Bernardin is frequently referred to as the "Temple of Seafood."

However, each of the chefs let their other side shine through a bit as well.  Bourdain discussed how becoming a father had helped to change him after years of drug use and hard living.  He also shared the perspective that years of world travel can bring, such as the image of Americans elsewhere around the world.

Ripert, on the other hand, seemed a bit uncomfortable delving into the details of a recent dustup with NBC's Al Roker in which the"Today" weatherman joked about his French heritage by referring to him as the "Pepe Le Pew" of cooking.  He also enjoyed his moments of getting under Bourdain's skin a bit in pointing out his lack of experience cooking in great restaurants.

The nearly full house drank in every moment, although longtime fans of the chefs likely recognized many of the jokes and anecdotes from past books and television episodes.  The brief question-and-answer session turned into a shouting match at times as attendees tried to get their queries recognized by the chefs.

Before the appearance, both chefs were gracious enough to sit down with FOX 17 for a brief interview about touring in places like West Michigan.

Bourdain's Travel Channel show, "No Reservations," returns for a new season in April.  "Avec Eric," starring Ripert, will have new episodes on PBS soon as well.

Find Anthony Bourdain's Travel Channel website here.

Click here for Eric Ripert's website.