For episode 50 of MUNCHIES: The Podcast, we're joined by none other than culinary legend Jacques Pépin. In part one of his interview with us, Jacques reflects on a career that has spanned 70 years and left an indelible mark on the world of food.
Pépin was one of the first celebrity chefs on the planet; he's cooked for three French presidents, turned down an invitation to become White House Chef to President Kennedy, eventually choosing instead to share his country's food with the world through the medium of television.
Jacques Pépin career later also encompassed being an educator and author—and as Julia Child’s BFF, teaching generations how to debone chickens and flip perfect omelettes on PBS. His knife skills are legendary, as is his charm. The consummate technician, Pépin tells MUNCHIES editor-in-chief Helen Hollyman that young chefs have to master the absolute basics if they have any hope of growing professionally, "You have to repeat and repeat and repeat those techniques, so you can transcend the level at which you have to think about it."
But his emphasis on technique and fine dining doesn’t mean that Jacques is elitist or pretentious by any means; he’s averse to wasting food, is a proponent of using all parts of the animals that he cooks with, and kindly lets us in on the secret to a thrifty “fridge soup.”
Jacques Pépin started working in kitchens in 1947 and has seen the radical transformation of food culture, from the rise of the celebrity chef and individualism in the kitchen to dramatic improvements in American grocery stores. In this day and age, where food media has grown into something that none of us could have imagined, Jacques Pépin’s perspective, wit, and attention to detail is more valuable than ever before.