Jacques Pépin (born December 18, 1935) is an internationally recognized French chef, television personality, and author working in the United States. Born in Bourg-en-Bresse, Lyon in France, Pépin was raised by a father and mother who jointly owned a restaurant, where he later credited the start of his love for food. He later studied in France and came to the U.S. to work at a French restaurant while learning English at night school. Between the 1950s and 1970s, he worked in restaurants, earned degrees from French schools and an M.A. from Columbia University, and cooked for numerous people, including French President Charles de Gaulle. At the end of the 1980s and the start of the 1990s, he appeared on French and American T.V. and wrote an array of cookbooks that became immediate best sellers.
Pépin has been featured in several highly acclaimed television shows and has written eighteen books.
His La Technique is used to this day as a textbook for teaching the fundamentals of French cuisine. The success of La Technique prompted him to launch a televised version of the book, resulting in an acclaimed 1997 PBS series, The Complete Pépin. Recently relaunched on PBS ten years after its initial run, the series included a new introduction by Pépin where he stressed that now more than ever the secret to being a successful chef and not a mere line cook lies in knowing and using the proper technique.
Pépin also co-starred in award-winning 1999 PBS series Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home with Julia Child. Their work together was honored with a Daytime Emmy in 2001.
A third series had Pépin cooking with his daughter, Claudine, wife of chef Rolland Wesen.
His show Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way (based on his 2004 book of the same name) ran on PBS, and Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way is currently being broadcast on PBS' Create Channel. All of his programs have been produced by KQED-TV in San Francisco.
A time line of his life, based on his 2003 autobiography The Apprentice, is available on the KQED website.
Pépin was a guest judge on season five of the Bravo television show Top Chef, which aired in 2008. He stated that his ideal "final meal" would be roast squab and fresh peas.
According to his autobiography, Mr. Pépin came to New York City as a young man to work as a chef in a French restaurant owned by a friend. However, his friend changed the plan and placed him in a job at the renowned "Le Pavillon." While living in New York, Mr. Pépin made the decision to attend Columbia University to learn English and ultimately, to continue the education that he had ceased at age 13 when he became an apprentice chef.
NOTE: Bio updated on June 14, 2011.
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