Preteen food critic gets flak from Le Bernardin chef


Le Bernardin's Eric Ripert

Precocious kids sort of annoy me, especially the ones in movies. Doesn't it seem like ALL kids in movies are precocious? It just seems like a copout by moviemakers who don't know or don't want to know what most real kids are like, so they just make them mini-adults.

So I was taken aback by how taken I was when I read about David Fishman, a 12-year-old food critic taking the foodie world by storm. The March issue of GQ gives the kid some major page space, and every word is worth it.

Kid's not only a terrific writer -- observant, witty, earnest -- but seems simultaneously aware of the absurdity of a 12-year-old talking foie gras. He gets it when people titter as he orders lamb. He knows when he scribbles down notes about the texture of his langoustine people think he's doing his homework. He knows he's a kid.

Apparently New York chef Eric Ripert isn't so impressed. The Le Bernardin chef reportedly has sour grapes over Fishman's fame and says the attention being showered on the boy is a an unfair glorification. So Alan Richman, GQ's food writer and the author of the Fishman feature, takes Fishman to Le Bernardin to review it.

Fishman's review, which is included on the blog, bears a maturity and sensitivity beyond his years. Rather than resorting to defensiveness or payback for Ripert's comments, he details with meticulous fervor how keenly he enjoys Ripert's meal, ending on a somewhat wistful note, tinged with a faint humor.

He concludes, " ... it was the chocolate ganache, so smooth and rich, that lingered with me for the rest of the night. That and a final thought. I realized with a pang how much it hurt to be mesmerized by a chef who hates me."

Unfortunately, a movie about young Fishman is apparently in the works.