9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2005
I was not familiar with Jacques Pepin before I was given this book as a present, but had already sampled Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman's offerings. This is a different type of book.
The author shares his earliest memories of the kitchen with us, explaining why he was so drawn to the kitchen. His love of freshness and quality of ingredients is obvious from the start, as is his love of his family (both as a child and later as a husband and father).
I couldn't put this book down. The recipes within it are not particularly complex, and have been carefully chosen to repesent the essence of what Pepin really likes to cook - simple, tasty, fresh food that delights the senses. In many ways, this book is like one of his dishes. It is very easy to read, the anecdotes resonate and I was left at the end with a threefold set of desires; to try one of the recipes, to buy another of his books, and to find some of his old recordings to watch.
All too often these days, chefs are portrayed as harsh taskmasters with little love for their staff (and often less for their customers). Pepin comes across as a genuinely warm man, creative, artistic and the sort of guy you wish would invite you round for one of those late sunday lunches that turn into dinner and end sometime the next morning after all the wine has been finished.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
As satisfying as a 5-star meal, as delicious as his mother's cheese souffle, Jacques Pepin's autobiography is rich in scenes, friends, recipes, and anecdotes.
Surely one of the most famous chefs in the world who came into homes through his PBS cooking shows and popular cookbooks, Pepin now reveals the story behind the public face.
Born in prewar France to a cabinetmaker and an energetic woman who owned a small restaurant Pepin was enamored with the kitchen as a youth. He left his formal education behind at the age of 13 to sign on as an apprentice in the arduous training system then required. It was a difficult road he had chosen in a system reminiscent of feudal days. Yet the young man persevered, and before the age of twenty found himself in France's most elite restaurant. Next, he would become personal chef to Charles de Gaulle.
After coming to America he numbered among his friends those with like interests and gifts - Julia Child and James Beard. He also earned a degree from Columbia University, and began to work for Howard Johnson.
A serious automobile accident might have meant the end of anyone's career, but not Pepin's. When he was unable to keep up the daily routine in a kitchen he became a cooking teacher, and a television icon.
"The Apprentice: My Life In The Kitchen" is a joy to read and savor.