Le Bernardin: Its Success Story

Le Bernardin: Its Success Story

Le Bernardin, New York's internationally acclaimed four-star seafood restaurant, was born in Paris in 1972 by sibling duo Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze. Dedicated entirely to the cuisine of Gilbert Le Coze, the self-taught seafood wizard, it only served fish: Fresh, simple and prepared with respect. Le Bernardin was named after an order of monks who liked to eat and drink and a song about the monks that Gabriel Le Coze, Maguy's and Gilbert's father, kept singing to them. 

The dual combination of Gilbert's new cooking techniques — unheard of in the Haute Cuisine-obsessed salons of Paris' better restaurants in the early seventies—with Maguy's energy and drive in the dining room propelled Le Bernardin to one Michelin star in 1976. Considering that Le Bernardin was opened on a shoestring budget with Maguy's and Gilbert's parents helping out in the kitchen as the only employees on opening night, the Michelin accolades were an incredible accomplishment.  

Continuing its success story, in 1980 the restaurant moved to a larger location garnering two coveted Michelin stars. This was the highest acclaim for a seafood-only restaurant since the powerful Michelin organization reserves the right to bestow three stars to restaurants with menus that also offer meat, games, poultry and fish to its diners. Le Bernardin insisted on only serving the best fish, carving out a niche in the competitive restaurant world of Paris and establishing an international reputation.  

Inspired by the triumph of Le Bernardin in Paris and its many American clients, the Le Cozes sought to open a Le Bernardin in New York in 1986. In no time, Le Bernardin became a four star restaurant which is renown for setting standards in the cooking of seafood in America.  After the unexpected death of her brother Gilbert in 1994, Maguy Le Coze began working closely with Chef Eric Ripert, a disciple and close friend of Gilbert, who took over the kitchen, and along with Le Coze continued to uphold Le Bernardin's position as one of the world's premier restaurants.  

In September 2011, Le Coze and Ripert unveiled the next chapter in the restaurant’s history: a significant redesign from Bentel & Bentel. The new look features a lounge, a first for the restaurant, where a separate menu is available. Since then, the restaurant received a James Beard Award in 2012 for “Best Restaurant Design,” and an “Outstanding Restaurateur” award in 2013 for Le Coze, who is the first woman to be honored in the category.  

The restaurant holds several records in New York: it received its four star review from The New York Times only three months after opening and is the only New York four star restaurant that has maintained its status of excellence for more than 20 years. Reviews have come in 1986, 1989, 1995, 2005, and most recently in 2012, with the same verdict: four stars.  Le Bernardin has received more James Beard Awards than any other restaurant in New York City. In 1998, Maguy Le Coze won the coveted James Beard Award for "Outstanding Restaurant" in America, and in May 2003, the James Beard Foundation named Eric Ripert “Outstanding Chef.”

In 2009, Le Bernardin was honored with the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Wine Service.” The Michelin Guide, which made its New York debut in 2005, honored Chef Ripert and Le Bernardin with its highest rating of three stars in 2005 and each year thereafter, and the restaurant ranks 24 on the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.  The New York Zagat Guide has consistently recognized Le Bernardin as top rated in the category of “Best Food,” and the 2011-2016 editions awarded Le Bernardin a 29 food rating: the highest in New York City. In the 2017 edition, Zagat changed their ranking system and Le Bernardin received a “4.9 out of 5” for both food and service. In the 2012-2014, 2016 and 2017 Zagat Guides, Le Bernardin is named the Most Popular Restaurant in the city, and in the 2015 through 2017 guides, it’s also rated the city’s top restaurant for service. New York magazine also rated Le Bernardin #1 in its annual ranking of the 101 best restaurants in New York City in 2006. In his year-end dining feature, Frank Bruni of The New York Times selected Le Bernardin as the “Best Meal of 2008.” Most recently, in the 2017 edition of La Liste, a newly debuted ranking of the 1,000 best restaurants in the world, Le Bernardin was named the number one restaurant in the United States and the number two restaurant in the world. 

In 1999, Ripert and partner Maguy Le Coze expanded their business to form Ripert Consulting, which so far has shaped restaurants in Florida, California and New York City. Ripert Consulting partnered with the Ritz Carlton to open Blue in Grand Cayman.     
 
To the delight of fans all over the world, 1998 saw the publication of Le Bernardin’s first cookbook, called Le Bernardin— Four Star Simplicity. Eric Ripert has also published My Best: Eric Ripert, Avec Eric, On the Line, and A Return to Cooking. He was the host of his own Emmy-award winning PBS TV series, AVEC ERIC, which began its third season on the Cooking Channel in February 2015, and has hosted RESERVE CHANNEL’s “On the Table” on YouTube.  
 

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