Last Friday night, chef Eric Ripert took a couple hours off from working the pass at Le Bernardin to grab a bag of popcorn and settle into one of the seats at the IFC Film Center. Ripert screened the well-reviewed documentary Pressure Cooker (playing through Thursday), about a teacher named Wilma Stephenson and her culinary arts class at a Philly public high school called Frankford.

Although Stephenson has taught at Frankford for forty years (she also coaches the cheerleading team), it's been over the last ten that she developed an unusual reputation: Each year, her students compete at the regional culinary finals and manage to win a sizable fraction of scholarships given by Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). The film, which was co-directed by Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker, follows three students over the course of the year. Stephenson runs class like a beneficent drill sergeant, basically doing whatever it takes to teach her students how to cook. She minces no words. Basically it's like Top Chef, only real.

After the screening, Ripert joined the filmmakers on stage with Wilma Stephenson and a student featured in the film, Fatoumata Dembele, who now works at Riingo. The audience asked questions. One was directed at Ripert, about his involvement with C-CAP.

"I didn't expect a question," he said, and continued, "I have to confess one thing: I have not done much." The audience laughed. "However, this movie is extremely touching and inspiring. If you ask me the same question a year from now, I will have done much more for C-CAP." Then, turning to Dembele, Ripert said "Your omelets are better than mine."