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Jacques Pepin: Man, Myth, Legend


Gail Hughes
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Jacques Pepin is my pretend "dad".

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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  • 2 years later...

I'm actually seeing Jacques tonight at a book signing in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm quite excited to meet him. I'm going to ask him to sign my copies of THE APPRENTICE and THE COMPLETE TECHNIQUES.

-drew

www.drewvogel.com

"Now I'll tell you what, there's never been a baby born, at least never one come into the Firehouse, who won't stop fussing if you stick a cherry in its face." -- Jack McDavid, Jack's Firehouse restaurant

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Jacques was the guest of honor at a recent event at Monterey Bay Aquarium. I had the good fortune to attend his cooking "demonstration." It was packed, and he graciously signed autographs and posed for photos with rabid fans.

The "demo" was about sustainable seafood. Salmon was its theme. And there we were, on the Monterey Bay, where salmon season is going strong.

Why then, O Powers That Be, did you give him Alaska sockeye wild salmon to use?

:blink:

Edited by tanabutler (log)
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I'm actually seeing Jacques tonight at a book signing in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm quite excited to meet him. I'm going to ask him to sign my copies of THE APPRENTICE and THE COMPLETE TECHNIQUES.

Way cool... can you take pix and post them, please...?

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I met Jacques as he stood outside the Parker House Hotel in Boston waiting for a cab. I marched right up to him and shook his hand and told him I loved his show--which was the one he was doing at the time with Claudine. He was quite handsome in a ' French country boy' kind of way. Nice skin. Rosy. He looked very taken aback I didn't ask him for his autograph. I had no paper and pen on me.... :hmmm:

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I look up away from my cutting board and knife and Jacques is floating up there and he says, "Oh. Be careful. Keep an eye on za knife, please?"

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I made my mom do something with me the last time I visited that could well put me in the running for Biggest eGullet Loser. JP lives 2 towns over from where I grew up and I found the address. I insisted we scope it out, and as we drove by, I said the magic words, "No, no, Claudine, that's not the way you do it. Here, let me."

No sign of him of course. Nice house. Then we went home and had some red wine with nice croutons and cheese.

Family.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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Way cool... can you take pix and post them, please...?

Jacques Pepin discussed THE APPRENTICE: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati on May 27, 2004.

I arrived about 30 minutes early and was able to get a seat in the front row. I spent the time before the event talking with a charming 73-years-young lady and her adult daughter about cooking, fresh produce, cookbooks, and Alton Brown (she'd never heard of him, but after looking at my just-purchased copy of GEAR FOR YOUR KITCHEN, she was headed back to get I'M JUST HERE FOR THE FOOD).

Promptly at 7:00, Jean-Robert de Cavel, chef at an excellent local restaurant stepped to the podium. Jean-Robert ("JR") recounted an experience from "when [he] was a shy younger chef" when Jacques Pepin came into the restaurant where JR was working, and JR was too nervous to go out to meet him. JR introduced Chef Pepin (in the course of the discussion, Chef Pepin revealed that he would dine this evening at JR's restaurant).

After the introduction, Chef Pepin took the podium. For about 45 minutes, he discussed his history, the new book, and his current activities. Then he accepted questions from the audience, some of which I recall and will recount here.

* He was asked if he still cooks, and he replied that he cooks "all the time" and that they rely on having a kitchen whenever they go on vacation.

* He said that he's building a "really big kitchen" (with room for cameras) in their guest house because, his wife will divorce him if he lets another camera in the house, he said jokingly!

* He's got another book/show coming soon.

* I asked him about the "culinary scene" in America, and he indicated that he was very pleased with how it has progressed and was grateful because the growth allowed him to make a living. He observed that America's culinary scene had grown more than the 'scene' in France (but quickly added, to no one's surprise, that America still had a "lot of growing to do" before it was close to France!)

* He was asked about the emergence of 'celebrity chefs' and replied that he thought it was interesting that chefs have become famous. He said that parents never wanted their children to be chefs ("be a doctor or a lawyer instead"), but now things have changed a bit. He cautioned that anyone seeking to become a chef to get famous still has to work 12-14 hour days, "sweat a lot", and work very, very hard.

* Folks asked about Julia, and Chef Pepin said that he speaks with her about once a week. They wanted to include some time with Julia in one of Chef's upcoming shows, but her health did not permit it. When Chef spoke with her a week ago, she was again feeling fine. He indicated that her health is "rebounding" between healthy and not-so-healthy. She's celebrating 92 years soon...

* He answered a question about the use of snooty ingredients (foie gras, truffles, etc), and said that in his shows/books, he uses ingredients that can be obtained at the supermarket, because what's the point of teaching using ingredients that no one can get?

There were more questions, but those are the ones I remember. Chef Pepin was really open and accessible. When I stepped up to get my book signed, he asked me if I was "in the business", (which made me feel great -- as if my time in Culinary School has somehow put the mark on me (and not just my scars!) that other chefs recognize as a kindred spirit (I admit to, perhaps, reading too much into his question!)). When I told him that I am a Culinary student, he wished me luck, signed both my books with wishes for my career, and shook my hand.

Jacques01.thumb.jpg

Chef Pepin with Jean-Robert de Cavel

(click here for a larger view)

Jacques02.thumb.jpg

(click here for a larger view)

Edited by vogelap (log)

-drew

www.drewvogel.com

"Now I'll tell you what, there's never been a baby born, at least never one come into the Firehouse, who won't stop fussing if you stick a cherry in its face." -- Jack McDavid, Jack's Firehouse restaurant

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Wow Drew, that was a great write up! Thank you so much for sharing. The pix were interesting...they looked liked photorealist drawings....

I am sorry to hear that Julia is a little less spry. She and I share a birthday (different years) and I feel she is a special lady.

I have The Apprenticein hard cover, and read it a year ago. What an interesting life Mr. Pepin has had.

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I always really liked Pepin's shows with his daughter and friends. They were about cooking but not just about cooking; they were also about relationships and life, and they were real. He always seemed like a really nice person.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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i had the (mis)fortune of being seated next to jacques at an iacp booksigning. which meant that i was in the position of making conversation with the lines of people who were waiting to have him sign their books/aprons/whatever or just have a picture taken with him. not quite as humbling as being seated next to julia, but close.

seriously, he is a great guy, one who is always revealing unexpected layers. i don't think i've ever seen a prouder grandpa than when claudine brought her baby by. he picked it up, abandoned the book stack and walked around for about a half hour showing everyone the baby. really a sweetheart.

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I was always amused that it seemed like his daughter never did anything the right way.

"No, no, you must beat it this way!"..."That tastes good but I would add a little bit more salt"... :laugh:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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This is as close as I'll probably ever get to finding the right place to tell my JP story.

28 years ago, while still in the Navy (making NO money) and stationed in way Northern California I was beginning to assemble my now excessive collection of kitchen knifes. My meager culinary skills had reached a point where I felt a chef's knife was in order, so down I went to the only kitchen supply store in the small town outside the base.

Unfortunately, my salary wasn't commiserate to my desires in cutlery. I really wanted a Henkels knife, but it just wasn't going to happen that day. Until, at the last moment, the sales person said, "Well, I do have a used chef's knife here. It's in great condition and was only used for a few demonstrations we had a couple of weeks ago."

I looked at the 12" chef's knife and tried to contain my drool. "I can let you have it for 25 dollars."

Sold!

As I was taking my receipt and bag I asked who had done the demonstration. Someone totally unknown to me at the time I learned.

"Jacques Pepin"

So now, even though I've never has the fortune of meeting the man, I can still say that every day I use one of his knives. Only when pressed do I confess to the entire story.

  • Like 1

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Damn, and I thought my knives were cool.

Coming from THE knife man, that's a compliment.

btw, I'm sure you're knives are much 'cooler' than mine. Mine just got used by a way cool Chef.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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As I was taking my receipt and bag I asked who had done the demonstration. Someone totally unknown to me at the time I learned.

"Jacques Pepin"

So now, even though I've never has the fortune of meeting the man, I can still say that every day I use one of his knives. Only when pressed do I confess to the entire story.

A wonderful tale. Thanks for telling it.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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As I was taking my receipt and bag I asked who had done the demonstration. Someone totally unknown to me at the time I learned.

"Jacques Pepin"

So now, even though I've never has the fortune of meeting the man, I can still say that every day I use one of his knives. Only when pressed do I confess to the entire story.

I wondered why Chef Pepin asked the audience if anyone had seen his chef's knife...

Now I know. Now we all know.

-drew

www.drewvogel.com

"Now I'll tell you what, there's never been a baby born, at least never one come into the Firehouse, who won't stop fussing if you stick a cherry in its face." -- Jack McDavid, Jack's Firehouse restaurant

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I wondered why Chef Pepin asked the audience if anyone had seen his chef's knife...

Now I know. Now we all know.

I stand before you all.....

BUSTED

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Not only is Jacque probably THE most talented chef that ever lived but a truly nice guy! When a local(Chicago) book store had a signing by Jacques of his new autobiograpahy, the store would not allow signing of books not purchased from thier store. An email to Jacques was promptly answered by his assistant and Jacques took care of the matter for me. To have one of his knives is GREAT.

His 'Art of Cooking Vol 1&2' started me on the path to becoming an amateur chef. In fact today we are using one of his recipe/techniques on the grill. -Dick

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As I was taking my receipt and bag I asked who had done the demonstration. Someone totally unknown to me at the time I learned.

"Jacques Pepin"

Mon dieu! Now that is a treasure. :wub: Lucky, lucky you!

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  • 10 years later...

This post and those responding to/arising from it have been moved from another discussion, as they are more relevant here.
 

Search on the web for episode 113 of Essential Pepin and the master himself will teach you how to clean whole leeks. Thank you for your compliment on the Borek. For so few ingredients it was really quite tasty.

 
Huh.  I've done what Pepin showed for years without ever seeing it on Pepin's show or even knowing that Pepin showed it.  However, I only do a single cut through the leek (to give a "halved-but-connected" leek) through the wider part of the leek, i.e. in the plane of the axis of the speading leaves, then separating the leaves/bracts as needed under the tap.  I never needed to separate more than 4-5 levels from the outside to get all the grit out.  Perhaps I'm wrong, but it seems to me that it is simply logical to do what Pepin showed - without needing to have Pepin show you what to do.  :huh:
 
At other times I simply remove the outermost leaves entirely then slit the inner leaves along the "rib" only as far as needed to check for grit.  I have never found it necessary to go inwards more than 4-5 "levels"; I've never found grit in the interior of the leaf bundle.  Of course, it helps to select "clean" looking tightly wrapped leeks in the first place.  :smile:  These "more intact" leeks are nice for buttered leeks, say, or slicing into whole "rounds" (maybe 1-inch "thick") and sautéed/browned on the ends. 
 
FWIW I think Pepin is a nice guy and a good French chef but I hardly think of him (or Julia Child, for that matter) as Divine Personages.  In fact, I barely think of him at all.  But, of course, to each his/her own; diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks, etc etc.

Edited by Mjx
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