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There is perhaps no greater bromance on television than the one between Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert. The Parts Unknown host loves dragging the chef/owner of Le Bernardin around the world on adventures that are full of wise-cracking, playful pranks, and, occasionally, profound musings on the great mysteries of the universe. These excursions always involve copious amounts of alcohol plus rich and/or spicy foods. “I like to bring the distinguished three-star Michelin chef and good friend Eric Ripert someplace every year and torture him,“ Bourdain recently remarked. When these pals are on screen together, they’re like a saltier, offal-hungrier version of Butch and Sundance.
Here’s a look back at the history of the food world’s least offensive bromance:
The Early Years
Before he became Bourdain’s television BFF, Ripert made a series of cameos on Tony’s old shows, starting with the Napa Valley episode of A Cook’s Tour back in 2002. In this truly bro-tastic episode — which is currently available to stream on Netflix — Bourdain, Ripert, New York chef Scott Bryan, and author Michael Ruhlman hop in a white limo and roll up to Yountville, CA to sample the French Laundry during its heyday.
Five years later, Bourdain visited Ripert at his acclaimed Manhattan seafood restaurant, Le Bernardin, on the New York City episode of No Reservations. The Ripper also had a cameo in the “Into the Fire” episode of that show in 2008, when Bourdain returned to his old home base, Les Halles, to work a shift on the line. The following year, Ripert and Ruhlman popped up in the Chicago episode of No Reservations while breaking bread with Tony at L20. And then, after five on-screen cameos, Ripert finally got to ride shotgun through an entire episode of No Reservations.
New School/Old School Paris
No Reservations, 2010
The Gist: For the 100th episode of his Travel Channel program, Bourdain brings Ripert on a dining crawl through Paris where they visit some venerable older establishments plus trailblazers some of the new restaurants that are making a splash. The episode concludes with a blow-out dinner at Le Atelier, overseen by Ripert’s old boss, Joël Robuchon.
What they eat: Multi-course feasts at Frenchie and Chateaubriand; offal-y delights at Le Papillon; ham, eggs, and sausage at a local butcher shop; wine and small plates at Le Comptoir; steak, tomato soup, and heavenly potatoes at Le Atelier de Joël Robuchon.
Hijiks: Minimal, but Tony does point out how hilarious it is that Ripert has to constantly defend the Michelin system when talking with the young trailblazing chefs of Paris.
Quotable Bourdain moment: Reflecting on karma and the afterlife: “I’ll be refilling the salad bar at TGI Fridays for like a million years. I'll be like, ‘More bacon bits, sir?’”
Watch it on: iTunes
The Brooklyn Blow-Out
No Reservations, 2012
The Gist: Two seasoned New Yorkers snag one of the most covetable reservations in the world: two stools at Cesar Ramirez’s Brooklyn Fare. Ripert is one of many guest stars in this series finale, set entirely in Brooklyn.
What they eat: Over a dozen courses of fish and vegetable-heavy fare, all prepared by Ramirez.
Hijinks: The Ripper gets in a wisecrack about Tony’s age, but otherwise, mellow on the hijinks.
Quotable Bourdain moment: On the people who go to Brooklyn Fare: "This is a much younger crowd than would be eating at a three star-Michelin 10 years ago. We’re the oldest people in the room.” To which Ripert adds: “You are.”
Stream it on: iTunes; The Travel Channel
From the Ocean to the Andes
Parts Unknown, 2013
The Gist: Tony and the Ripper head to Peru to visit the farmers who are harvesting the cacao that the pals are using in their gourmet chocolate bars. On the way up the mountain, the boys make a side trip to a local shaman who conducts a ceremonial blessing.
What they eat: Javier Wong’s ceviche, Amazon-inspired haute cuisine at Amaz, platters of fresh fish at the home of Coque Ossio, hen soup up in the mountains, and ancient king-style hot cocoa.
Hijinks: Eric and Anthony visit a museum of ancient erotic artifacts; the guys hike up a huge mountain and Tony hates it.
Quotable Bourdain moment: “You ever been spanked in your life and enjoyed it? Yeah, me neither. I don’t like pain. Except [being] brutalized with a pepper.”
Stream it on: Netflix
Doing the Seaside Shuffle in Marseille
Parts Unknown, 2015
The gist: These two silver-haired charcuterie fanatics visit France’s second-oldest city for a few days full of beachside maxin’ and relaxin’, plus some further musings about the afterlife.
What they eat: Tarte flambés, pied et paquets, and a bevy of amazing cheeses served from a cart.
Hijinks: This is an especially quip-heavy episode, and some of the material is rather bawdy.
Quotable Bourdain moment: Bourdain on Ripert’s likely future reincarnation: “More likely, you end up a mime. A diseased, itinerant mime wandering the streets scrounging for money.”
Stream it on: Netflix
A Trek Through the Sichuan Region of China
Parts Unknown, 2016
The Gist: The boys feast on dishes full of peppercorns and chiles over the course of several meals, including a banquet with food writer Fuchsia Dunlop. In a more sedate moment, Bourdain and Ripert visit the largest stone buddha in the world via boat.
What they eat: Boiling duck intestine hot pot, chicken with chiles, mapo tofu, rabbit heads, and many tipples of potent baijiu.
Hijinks: Bourdain takes great delight in making his friend sweat from eating too many peppercorns throughout this episode.
Quotable Bourdain moment: Right before eating Sichuan peppercorn fish, Bourdain tells Ripert: “Any second now, that perfect hair is going to burst into flames.”
Stream it on: Netflix
Calorie Overload in the French Alps
Parts Unknown, 2017
The gist: Tony tags along on a trip to the picturesque mountain tops where Ripert spent part of his youth, for skiing, snow-shoeing, and consuming way too many dairy products.
What they eat: Raclette, pan-seared foie gras, farçon, fondue, gnocchi, and braised beef with polenta.
Hijinks: Ripert bets Tony $1,000 that he’s incapable of milking a cow, but Bourdain wins the bet. This episode also includes two mock-death scenes wherein Bourdain slides into a woodchipper and the Ripper gets knocked out by an errant rock.
Quotable Bourdain moment: Bourdain on bovine flatulence: “See, this is why we should eat meat. We’re saving the planet, we gotta kill these things. They’re ripping a hole in the ozone layer — plus it stinks.”
Stream it on: iTunes