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Jacques Pépin
Jacques Pépin
Master Chef
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Jacques Pépin
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Master chef, author, and educator Jacques Pépin is “the original Iron Chef.” Winner of 16 James Beard Awards and author of 29 books, Pépin has taught millions of Americans – plus an entire generation of chefs — how to cook. His classical approach to the kitchen centers on skill and method, teaching everyone from the greenest home cook to the seasoned professional how to put techniques into practice. GQ called him "probably the most impactful living chef in America.”

"Jacques Pépin is The Master,” said Anthony Bourdain. “The undisputed authority on…well, just about everything relating to food. If Jacques Pépin tells you this is the way to make an omelet — or to roast a chicken, then for me, the matter is settled.”

In May 2017, PBS will premiere American Masters: Jacques Pépin – The Art of Craft, on the story of Jacques Pépin, and how he ushered in a new era of American food culture.

Pépin first released his seminal cookbook, La Technique, in 1976. Selling more than 140,000 copies, La Technique has become a classic text in its own right. With time-tested recipes and a range of essential practices, the updated version, Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques, was released in 2012, and is complete with thousands of photographs, 160 recipes, and over 600 skills and methods.

Pépin shared the spotlight with the iconic Julia Child on the award-winning Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. The series went on to win a Daytime Emmy and the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best National Cooking Show. The duo developed and taught a master’s degree program in gastronomy at Boston University where Pépin still teaches today.

Upon moving to the United States, Pépin turned down the position of White House chef to direct research and development at Howard Johnson’s, where he helped revolutionize food chemistry, mass production techniques and subsequently, American cuisine. Pépin built his career as a master craftsman who presents accessible recipes for any kitchen with ingredients found in the local grocery store. He maintains the perspective that everyone can cook with some basic training and preparation.

Pépin has taught at the French Culinary Institute since 1988, and currently serves as Dean of Special Programs. The Executive Culinary Director for Oceania Cruises, his many honors include France’s highest civilian honor, La Légion d'honneur.

Born in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, Jacques always found the kitchen to be a place of both comfort and excitement. Working in his family’s restaurant as a child, he began his formal apprenticeship at age 13. After a meteoric rise through the ranks, Pépin became the personal chef for three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle.

His next book, A Grandfather’s Lessons, will be released in September 2017 and is coauthored by his granddaughter Shorey.

Full Bio >
  • Chef Jacques Pepin (2011)
  • The Apprentice: An Evening with Jacques Pépin at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2008)
  • Jacques Pepin Tribute Video (2011)
  • Top Chef: Learning from Jacques Pépin (2013)
  • Heart and Soul Kick Off (2015)
  • Essential Pepin Shorts, French Fries (2012)
  • Jacques Pepin on Being a Great Chef (2008)
  • Jacques Pepin honored at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival (2010)
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Speaking Topics
Heart & Soul in the Kitchen: An Evening with Jacques and Claudine Pépin

Special program in Food and Wine with Jacques and Claudine Pépin

When you ask people to describe the greatest meal of their life, usually they will talk to you about a meal they had with their family rather than in a great restaurant, because food is only part of the whole gastronomic experience; who you share it with is equally important, The kitchen is essential in the raising of a child as well as the custom of sitting around the table eating and talking together about the day’s happenings. While demonstrating, we’ll discuss the making of recipes and the creation of a meal as it reflects seasonal or monetary considerations and taste preferences, as well as taboos in the kitchen. To paraphrase Brillat-Savarin, one of the great gastronomes of the 19th century, “to invite someone to your home is to take care of his or her happiness during the time he or she is under your roof.” If this implies breaking the rules, so be it. The important issue is to share, give, and enjoy. More than anything else, we’ll show the joy of cooking and the pleasure of giving and sharing, which is what our cooking is all about.

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Essential Pépin: My Life in Food

With over sixty years in the kitchen, Jacques Pépin has earned a reputation as both a master craftsman and champion of simplicity. He’s known for finding the shortest, surest route to flavor, avoiding complicated techniques. The world’s most famous cooking teacher, Pépin highlights the basic skills and lessons for everyday success in and out of the kitchen. Drawing on his vast experience in the multi-billion dollar restaurant and hospitality industry, from the great Windows on the World to The Russian Tea Room, this master shares with us a lifetime of achievement and a few favorite recipes, too. 

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Fast Food My Way: A Chef's Perspective on Health

“I think that most people are very busy these days, so they are receptive to anything that makes their lives easier – including my version of “convenience foods.” Jacques Pepin realizes that keeping ahead of work, family, and a social life may take a lot of effort, often making it difficult to include a healthy diet in the mix – but to Pepin, “there is no ‘cuisine’ worth the name that doesn’t incorporate healthy food.” Emphasizing the importance of a balanced life, Pepin explores how tradition, culture and well-being can emerge from the dinner table.

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Chef's Table: Exploring The Intersections of Art & Food

Best known as a master chef, Jacques Pepin’s other passion puts him in front of an easel, instead of the stove. Struck by the dichotomy of these two interests, he entertains the belief that that great cooks do not exist without technical ability, while all the best painters would be nothing but craftsmen without talent and inspiration. Seeing both cooking and painting as different expressions of himself, Pepin compares both, offering words of wisdom and exploring his own life’s work in the process.

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A Culinary Retrospective: Conversations on Food and Society

“We are what we eat,” is the most famous of Brillat-Savarin’s aphorisms. Food has always permeated French literature, from the works of classic French authors of the 17th Century, like Moliere, to the 18th Century encyclopedists to the 19th Century’s Balzac or Proust’s affective memory. There is no part of social studies that cannot be filtered through food: from history to biology to anthropology and sociology, as well as politics and religion. Those are all great sources for the food aficionado. Most countries are defined by their culinary identity, sometimes in a derisive way, like calling Italians “macaroni,” the French “frogs,” and the Germans “krauts.” The food habits and culture of a country are thoroughly interwoven with its literature, philosophy, civilization, and politics. This is what sparks conversation around the table and makes the difference between eating and dining.

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The Apprentice: An Evening with Jacques Pépin

This is a discussion about my culinary journey from the food-starved France of my youth during World War II to the overabundant food availability of today’s America. The strict, rigorous apprenticeship of the “40’s and “50’s in professional kitchens in country France is followed by my discovery of Parisien haute cuisine. Coming to the United States, I uncovered a new world in the American supermarket, new tastes at Howard Johnson’s, and cooked with great culinary stars of the times, from Craig Claiborne to James Beard to Julia Child to Helen McCully. I’ll recall my new life and the freedom of the new world: my studies at Columbia, my skiing at Hunter Mountain, writing about food, the beginnings of food television, and the importance of food in my daily life.

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Books & Other Works
  • A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey
  • Heart and Soul in the Kitchen
  • Jacques Pepin New Complete Techniques
  • Essential Pépin: More than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Cooking by Jacques Pepin
  • Jacques Pépin's More Fast Food My Way
  • Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook
  • Fast Food My Way
  • Jacques Pépin's Simple and Healthy Cooking
  • The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen
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“Thrilled is the only emotion to describe people’s reactions to you.... You have so many fans it’s truly extraordinary.”
The Preservation Society of Newport County
“I have said it many times: If and when I have grandchildren, I will tell them that I saw Michael Jordan play basketball, Jacques Pepin make an omelet, and James Gandolfini act.”
Brett Martin, GQ
“Pépin's sous chef for the evening was his daughter, Claudine, and for almost two hours the pair showed the audience how to properly cut up vegetables and fruit and truss a chicken. And to say it was a joy to watch is a vast understatement, rather like saying that Pépin once made snacks for Charles de Gaulle. Which, of course, he did.”
LA Weekly
“It was great!! He is sooo nice and accommodating. Big success.”
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Personal Stories