Inqlings | Hot N.Y. chef will check in here

Posted: May 20, 2007

First time Eric Ripert came to Philadelphia a year and a half ago, he stepped into the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton across from City Hall.

The much-honored chef from New York's Le Bernardin did what everyone does: looked up at the 140-foot ceiling modeled on the Pantheon and did an oh-wow.

Last week, Ripert and hotelier Craig Spencer struck a deal to place a Ripert restaurant in the lobby. Don't call yet for a rez - it's nearly a year out as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation.

Though name and concept haven't been nailed down, it will be "sexy, modern, sophisticated and casually elegant - keeping the grandeur of the dome but at the same time creating an intimate space," Ripert said Friday. Unlike his formal New York seafood restaurant - where adherents drop $107 and up for the tasting menu - this will be a "good value in terms of price." He said he'd export a chef from Le Bernardin to run the kitchen.

Ripert (sounds like "repair") consults for Ritz-Carlton, with two restaurants in Grand Cayman, and just announced a similar project at the Ritz-Carlton in D.C.'s West End.

An upright guy

Eagles kicker David Akers' assignment next Sunday: He'll officiate at the marriage of Tracey Detweiler, who oversees Eagles' travel, to Jeff Leinen, who has the same role with the Detroit Lions. (Sheer coincidence that the Lions play the Eagles here this season, on Sept. 23.) Detweiler, a Lansdale native in her 13th season with the Birds, credits Akers with providing her spiritual guidance. Akers is not ordained, so the Rev. Herb Lusk, the team's chaplain and a former Eagle, will sign the license. You may wonder where two travel experts will honeymoon. So does she. Her fiance booked the trip; all she knows is that they'll go July Fourth weekend.

Big break

The quartet Bamboo Shoots - two of whom are Voorhees' Avir Mitra and Cherry Hill's Karl Sukhia - turned up on Conan O'Brien's TV show the other night as they won a deal with Epic Records worth $1.5 million in an online contest sponsored by the label and cable outlet mtvU. Bamboo Shoots, formed at Middlesex County College, melds upbeat rock, electro and South Asian/Indian sounds. The band will be documented in an mtvU series premiering in the fall.

Charity stuff

The local Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation raised $1.3 million last weekend at its Promise Ball at the Loews. Would have been only $1 million had three people, including a 12-year-old girl, not stood up during the program and donated $100,000 each.

Actor Dermot Mulroney - dressed in an old-school FILA soccer warm-up jacket, his hair shaggy - dug into a lunchtime truffle pizza Thursday at Rae in the Cira Center. Mulroney was dining with a law-firm employee who had "won" him in an auction benefiting Lantern Theater Company.

The Prince Music Theater is still toting returns from Tuesday's gala, headlined by Liza Minnelli. The entertainer's longtime musical collaborator, Billy Stritch, will open the Prince's cabaret season in September with a Mel Torme program.

Morning radio guys Frank Lewis of WOGL (98.1) and Chris Booker of WIOQ (102.1) played to a tie during last month's Home Runs for Heart Media Day. Midday Tuesday, they'll swing again at Citizens Bank Park during the Heart Association's Home Runs for Heart fund-raiser. (Perhaps by then Booker will have recovered from his star-studded 36th birthday party Friday night at Kildare's in Society Hill.)

Philly sounds

Tuesday's CBS Evening News With Katie Couric - airing from the Art Museum - will include clips of Philly sights and sounds. Jerry Blavat and fellow Bandstand dancers from 50-plus years ago were videotaped the other day getting down at the old Bandstand studio at 46th and Market. (No hips were broken in the making of this video.)

Speaking of hip: "South Street" will meet Broad and Market on June 7 when City Council honors The Orlons, who will sing as Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown gives the citation.

Radio activity

Joey O. of Y-Rock on XPN had begged "Weird Al" Yankovic for the better part of a year for a sitdown. He landed him recently, and got Yankovic to program a music set, which aired Friday on WXPN (88.5). Y-Rock will rerun the show - featuring stuff by The B-52s, They Might Be Giants, Warren Zevon, Spinal Tap, even William Shatner's "Mr. Tambourine Man" - online at YRockOnXPN.org from 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow.

Fresh Air will mark its 20th anniversary as a daily national program on National Public Radio tomorrow (3 and 7 p.m. on WHYY, 90.9) with a collection of interviews that host Terry Gross left to producers to choose. Among them: actors Uta Hagen, Jon Lovitz and Sacha Baron Cohen; singer-songwriter Dion; and New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins. Gross started hosting Fresh Air at WHYY in 1975.

Briefly noted

Cameras are to roll tomorrow at Snackbar, the boutique restaurant off Rittenhouse Square, as chef Jonathan McDonald hosts New York chef Paul Liebrandt, with whom he worked at Gilt in Manhattan. Liebrandt, a proponent of the high-science-meets-culinary movement known as molecular gastronomy, briefly consulted at Philly's Striped Bass. Footage will be part of an unnamed HBO project.

Ron Jaworski and Joe Theismann, whom Jaws is replacing on ESPN's Monday Night Football, will be on the links at the Atlantic City Country Club today and tomorrow for the Ron Jaworski Celebrity Golf Tournament benefiting United Way.

End quote

Michael Barkann at Monday's Jewish Sports Hall of Fame dinner at the Gershman Y: "I host a show on Comcast SportsNet called Daily News Live - except when Stan Hochman and John Feinstein are on and we call it Daily Jews Live."
Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or mklein@phillynews.com. "INQlings" also appears in Magazine on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/michaelklein.

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