One of the country’s most respected chefs is cutting his ties with one of Washington’s top hotel brands today. In a meeting with his team at Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert , the French chef plans to announce that his name will no longer be associated with the restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton at 22nd and M streets.
“I’m leaving the Ritz on great terms,” says Ripert, best-known for his four-star seafood restaurant in New York, Le Bernardin . “We’ve met all the goals. I’m very proud of what we’ve done” in the past five years.
So why is he removing his name from the property?
“I need to focus on Le Bernardin and other projects,” which the chef says he isn’t currently free to discuss. However, he hints that he has new ideas for New York and they won’t involve another luxury seafood temple. “There will always be only one Le Bernardin,” insists its captain.
Ripert discussed his farewell as he was eating the handiwork of the bistro’s new chef, Devin Bozkaya, a former sous chef at the Inn at Little Washington , who helped garner a 2 1/2-star review for the restaurant earlier this month.
“I’m very emotional today,” says Ripert, who plans to bid farewell to his staff this afternoon and dine tonight with the hotel’s general manager at the nearby Rasika West End. He says he’s proudest of having opened a neighborhood restaurant that became a dining destination in the city. “Westend Bistro is on the right track.”
Ripert’s name goes off the signage and restaurant Web site Jan. 1.