One of the most acclaimed chefs in America, Ripert is the chef of world renowned, four-star French seafood restaurant, Le Bernardin.

Ripert grew up in Andorra, the tiny principality wedged between Spain and France in the Pyrenees mountains, where learned how to cook from his grandmother. He headed to France to attend culinary school in Perpignan, and landed his first kitchen job in 1982: at the bottom of the culinary ladder at La Tour D'Argent, one of Paris's most acclaimed restaurants. Following a stint at Joel Robuchon's three-star Jamin, Ripert arrived in the U.S. in 1989 where worked as a sous-chef at Jean-Louis, the restaurant in Washington's Watergate Hotel. Ripert was poached by Le Bernardin, and in 1994 he became the executive chef. A year later, at just 29 years old, Ripert earned four stars, the New York Times' highest rating. Today, over a decade later, Le Bernardin still maintains its rating: The prestigious Michelin Guide awarded Ripert and Le Bernardin its highest rating of three stars in 2005 and each year since.

Ripert frequently serves as a guest judge on Top Chef, in addition to hosting his own show, Avec Eric, on PBS. Avec Eric brought Ripert two Daytime Emmy Awards to add to his already full trophy case and inspired a 2010 cookbook. Ripert lives in New York with his wife and son. [Image via Getty]