Le Bernardin, New York's internationally acclaimed four star seafood restaurant, was born in Paris in 1972 by sibling duo Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze. Dedicated entirely to the cuisine of Gilbert Le Coze, the self-taught seafood wizard, it only served fish: Fresh, simple and prepared with respect. Le Bernardin was named after an order of monks who liked to eat and drink and a song about the monks th
at Gabriel Le Coze, Maguy's and Gilbert's father, kept singing to them. Le Coze's parents owned and operated a small restaurant and inn, the Hotel de Rhuys. Gilbert received his cooking lessons by helping his grandfather and father in the kitchen and on the fishing boat while Maguy Le Coze worked alongside her mother in the dining room. The dual combination of Gilbert's new cooking techniques — unheard of in the Haute Cuisine-obsessed salons of Paris' better restaurants in the early seventies—with Maguy's energy and drive in the dining room propelled Le Bernardin to one Michelin star in 1976. Considering that Le Bernardin was opened on a shoestring budget with Maguy's and Gilbert's parents helping out in the kitchen as the only employees on opening night, the Michelin accolades were an incredible accomplishment. Continuing its success story, in 1980 the restaurant moved to a larger location garnering two coveted Michelin stars. This was the highest acclaim for a seafood-only restaurant since the powerful Michelin organization reserves the right to bestow three stars to restaurants with menus that also offer meat, games, poultry and fish to its diners. Le Bernardin insisted on only serving the best fish, carving out a niche in the competitive restaurant world of Paris and establishing an international reputation. Inspired by the triumph of Le Bernardin in Paris and its many American clients, the Le Coze's sought to open a Le Bernardin in New York in 1986. By again employing the technique of "divide and conquer", Maguy commanded the functions of the dining room and décor, while seafood virtuoso Gilbert took control of the kitchen. In no time, Le Bernardin became a four star restaurant which is renown for setting standards in the cooking of seafood in America. The restaurant holds several records in New York: it received its four star review from the New York Times only three months after opening—that's how much Gilbert's unconventional cooking had taken New Yorkers—and is the only New York four star restaurant that has maintained its status of excellence for more than 10 years. Reviews have come in 1986, 1989 and 1995 with the same verdict: Four stars. After the unexpected death of her brother Gilbert in 1994, Maguy Le Coze is now working closely with her partner/chef Eric Ripert. Ripert, one of the brightest talents in the kitchens of the world, and Le Coze continue to uphold Le Bernardin's position as one of the world's premier restaurants. In 1998, Maguy Le Coze won the coveted James Beard Award for "Outstanding Restaurant" in America, Eric Ripert was named "Chef of the Year New York" by the James Beard Foundation, influential Gourmet magazine ranked Le Bernardin number one in New York and the Zagat's Guide for 1999 also placed the restaurant in its top spot for food. To the delight of its fans all over the world, 1998 also saw the publication of Le Bernardin's first cookbook called Le Bernardin—Four Star Simplicity.