Saturday, September 14, 2013

An Evening with Jacques Pépin

The other night I was able to see my idol, Jacques Pépin, in action, at a demonstration at the International Culinary Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute), with which he is affiliated. I went with my friend Piglet, who didn't share my love for Jacques until she met and watched him: now she is a convert.

Bobby Jay and Jacques Pépin
I have seen most of Jacques' television series and have been using his books since 1979 and have always come away impressed with his extraordinary skill and his ability to convey it to viewers and readers. Also, with his incredible charm, good looks and joie de vivre.

All of this was on display at the demonstration. The ease with which he boned and stuffed a chicken, cured salmon for 15-minute gravlax, made omelets and did a variety of things with garlic, herbs and fruits, among other things, was pretty dazzling. 

Jacques boning a chicken
Jacques scrambling eggs
Jacques has been cooking professionally for more than 60  years, and French techniques are part of his DNA. While he has moved well beyond classic French cooking, his classical training continues to serve him well, and watching him is an inspiration to work on basic skills. The best way to start is with the DVD of techniques that is included at the back of his recent Essential Pépin. Also to look at the outstanding step-by-step pictures in his New Complete Techniques, a recently published one-volume version of his iconic La Technique and La Méthode with many sumptuous new photos.

Chapeau, Jacques Pépin!

Bobby Jay

1 comment:

Ordinary Servant said...

I love him! His scrambled egg recipes are the best. :)