Eric Ripert, Frenchman, goes native with an American classic

French haute cuisine superstar from four-star Le Bernardin draws inspiration from ... fatty fast food? Mon dieu!

Published June 24, 2010 1:01AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)
(AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

When Eric Ripert set out to make the perfect burger, he found his inspiration in an unlikely place.

"It may sound crazy coming from a French chef, but the inspiration behind this burger is actually McDonald's and Burger King," said Ripert, the man behind New York's award-winning Le Bernardin restaurant and Westend Bistro in Washington.

For Ripert, a great burger must be perfectly proportioned, a trait he thinks the fast-food giants have aced.

"All the elements are carefully controlled," he said via email. "The way they cut the pickles, the way they cut the tomatoes, the way they slice the salad, and the size, obviously make those burgers perfect."

Except the meat, that is.

"So what we did was we looked at their burgers carefully and studied the proportions, and then of course did the same thing, but with great meat," he said. "We're using sirloin mostly, but it's the fat content and ratio of fat to meat that is very important."

And don't forget a great bun. Ripert favored a fresh challah bun for his perfect burger.

Westend Bistro Burger
Serves: 4


  • 28 ounces ground sirloin (85 percent lean)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 challah buns
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • 4 pickle slices
  • Ketchup and Dijon mustard, to taste
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, sliced into four 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced, soaked in ice water until crisp
  • 4 leaves crisp romaine lettuce, shredded


  1. Form the beef into four 7-ounce patties. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a grill to medium. Lightly oil the grates.
  3. Grill the burgers, flipping once, to desired doneness. Cover and set aside.
  4. Brush the insides of the buns with the softened butter and grill until golden. Set aside.
  5. Heat the broiler.
  6. Top each burger with a slice of the cheese, then place under the broiler until just melted.
  7. Place each burger on the bottom half of a roll. Top with a pickle, then ketchup and mustard, then the tomato, onion and lettuce. Finish with the top of the bun.

By J.M. HIRSCH AP Food Editor

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