'Top Chef' Judge Eric Ripert on the New Season and His Secret Weapons in the Kitchen

Critics regularly declare Eric Ripert one of the best chefs in the world. The French-born chef has earned Michelin stars and James Beard awards for his New York restaurant, Le Bernardin; penned several cookbooks; and stars in his own TV show, Avec Eric. So what's next for the culinary superstar? Top Chef, of course. Ripert talks to iVillage about joining the judges' table for the new season.

How did you end up on the show as a judge?
Well, I'm not a permanent judge. I replaced Gail [Simmons] whenever she could not be on set, which was about half the season. I've always enjoyed the show, and because it was filming in Washington, D.C., where I have a restaurant, I could film and check on my restaurant at the same time.

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