Eric Ripert Takes Roberto Cavalli to the Woodshed

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Photo: Getty Images

Yesterday, our friends at the Cut reported that Roberto Cavalli — the most Italian of all Italians — decided he didn't feel like having the food at Serafina where he was then dining alfresco for lunch, but was instead craving Mexican. So he had Mañana (also owned by Serafina honcho Vittorio Assaf) deliver a feast of chicken tostaditos and enchiladas de mole. Not only that, but apparently Cavalli likes to sit in the back of Serafina and order guacamole from Mañana ALL THE TIME — a habit that Assaf, understandably, has been keeping under wraps from Serafina's chef, lest he get a tad insulted and walk out. (Tip to Assaf: The best way to keep secrets is to NOT tell them to the press.)

Not long after the news broke, we ran into Eric Ripert at the Alzheimer's Association's 2009 Rita Hayworth Gala and asked if a customer ever ordered food from somewhere else while sitting at Le Bernardin. "It's never happened," said Ripert. "But I think Roberto Cavalli has a big ego to do that. On top of it, he is supposedly a friend of Vittorio! I find that in bad taste, and I don't care who he is. It's not something that he should be doing." What would Ripert do if Cavalli had done that in his restaurant? "He wouldn't have done that in my restaurant, because he wouldn't have a table in my restaurant. I think he is disrespectful and it is just a way of ... " he paused a second to think of the right, outraged term in English, " ... FLASHING and it is unnecessary. He can eat very well at Vittorio's restaurants — Serafina or Mañana — and he doesn't have to do that. If he wants to eat Mexican, go to a Mexican place. If he wants to eat French, go to a French place, or Italian, or whatever."

Ripert stopped short of declaring Cavalli a persona non grata in his establishments. "If he comes to Le Bernardin, it's okay," he said. "I have no problem to feed Mr. Cavalli. However, if he comes to Le Bernardin and he orders a pizza from another place, he is not going to eat at Le Bernardin. There is a lot of people who appreciate what we do, and we are very proud and passionate about what we do, and I would find that very insulting. And I won't let him! It's like me going to Roberto Cavalli and then asking the designer next door to bring a dress for my wife, and then dress her in his boutique. I would not do that. I would go to Hermès."

View more from the Alzheimer's Association gala in our Party Lines slideshow.