One of America’s best-known chefs, cookbook authors and cooking teachers, Jacques Pépin has published 26 books and hosted 11 acclaimed public television cooking series, the most recent of which is a companion to his latest book, Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. A new book and PBS-TV series, both titled Essential Pépin will release in October 2011. The book will encompass over 700 recipes from Pépin’s long career, some of which he will demonstrate on the accompanying series.
Pépin’s last book, published by Stewart Tabori & Chang, is a visual biography entitled Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook, in April 2007. It followed his bestselling memoir, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, which was published in hardcover in 2003 and in paperback in 2004 by Houghton.
Pépin was born in Bourg-en-Bresse, near Lyon. His first exposure to cooking was as a child in his parents' restaurant, Le Pelican. At age thirteen, he began his formal apprenticeship at the distinguished Grand Hotel de L’Europe in his hometown. He subsequently worked in Paris, training under Lucien Diat at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée. From 1956 to 1958, Pépin was the personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle.
Moving to the United States in 1959, Pépin worked first at New York's historic Le Pavillon restaurant, then served for ten years as director of research and new development for the Howard Johnson Company while attending Columbia University. He received his B.A. degree from Columbia’s School of General Studies (GS) in 1970 and went on to earn a master’s degree in French literature at Columbia in 1972. This past May (2010), he delivered the commencement address at Columbia’s GS graduation ceremonies. Also that month, he received an honorary Doctor of Culinary Arts degree from Johnson and Wales University. The University of New Haven previously awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
A former columnist for The New York Times, Pépin writes articles for Food & Wine magazine. He also participates regularly in that magazine’s prestigious Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and at other culinary festivals and fund-raising events worldwide. In addition, he is a popular guest on such commercial TV programs as The Late Show with David Letterman, The Today Show, and Good Morning America.
In 2009, Pépin received the Governor’s Award of Excellence for Culture and Tourism from Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell. In October, 2004, he was awarded France’s highest civilian honor, the French Legion of Honor, at a presentation in New York. He is also the recipient of two other high honors from the French government: he was named a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1997 and a Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole in 1992. The Dean of Special Programs at The French Culinary Institute (New York) since 1988, Pépin is an adjunct faculty member at Boston University. He is a founder of The American Institute of Wine and Food and a member of the International Association of Cooking Professionals. He and his wife, Gloria, live in Madison, Connecticut.