Celebrity French Chef Jacques Pepin
Celebrated chef Jacques Pepin is TV personality, cookbook author, and teacher/instructor. One of the original celebrity chefs, Pepin was one of Chef Julia Child’s most popular guest/chef hosts. If you were to take an educational lesson from his life, it would read as diverse and storied.
Pepin grew up in France so has French culinary tradition zipped into his DNA. But he also learned to chop vegetables and take on other basic kitchen duties in his parents restaurant, Chez Pepin. Like a few other celebrity chefs, Pepin knew so early in his life he wanted to be a chef that he left school and instead entered into a number of influential apprenticeships.
The early 1960s brought Chef Pepin to New York where he learned American cooking. Here he met Julia Child, joined on as Executive Chef with the Howard Johnson’s food chain and opened his one and only restaurant, La Potagerie, which later he and his partners in the business sold.
Early Food TV Featured Pepin
Television was not a big vehicle for chefs and cooks until the 1970s and 80s. Pepin started teaching early in his career. Plenty of American chefs would want to know the nuances of classic French cooking and Pepin had much to share. But he was also instrumental in melding classic French with American techniques and ingredients.
During his Food TV heyday he and Julia Child forged a fruitful television alliance co-hosting a series on PBS: Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.
Pepin’s Cuisine and Food Contributions
Despite his classic French culinary roots, Pepin actually spearheaded a modern method of French cooking that offered instruction in recipes and dishes more simple than complex. In fact, his La Potagerie restaurant was originally opened to provide simple French soups and dishes that were affordable and fast. Subsequently his cookbook, Fast Food My Way, illustrates a love for ingredients readily available.
His biggest claims to fame have been his cookbooks and his academic teaching. He has authored over two dozen cookbooks, many of them very popular sellers, including his autobiography, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. He is currently Dean of the French Culinary Institute in New York City, where fellow Frenchman Jacques Torres serves as Dean of Pastry Studies. FCI has become one of the premier culinary arts schools in the country, if for no other reason than it is helmed by these two great French chefs. Pepin is credited with helping to develop the Gastronomy program at Boston University and remains an instructor there, as well.