Jacques Pépin begins filming his last series

Jacques PepinIn an age where nearly every cooking show focuses on conflict and outsized personality, Jacques Pépin stands out. For nearly 25 years, Pépin has starred in low-key, straightforward cooking shows through the public broadcasting station KQED in San Francisco. He says that his latest series, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul, will be his last.

While Pépin doesn’t rule out doing guest spots on other cooking shows, he says he’s won’t do another television show with a companion cookbook after Heart & Soul, which is set to air in fall 2015. So why is he ending his very successful run? He admits that one factor is his age.  “I do feel older now,” says Pépin, who is approaching his 79th birthday. “The series is work. But the book is even more work.”

The old-school method Pépin utilizes in his shows certainly looks like a lot of work: he “goes to the market every day and cooks the dishes in his home kitchen while an assistant jots down notes and measurements that are later typed into recipes. Just writing the cookbook can take two years.”

The San Francisco Chronicle’s interview with Pépin covers what viewers can expect from his new series, transports us to his beginnings in food in 1949, and provides a “by the numbers” listing of accomplishments (including his 24 cookbooks, many with several editions, and 295 episodes). It also provides insight on what Pépin thinks of modern cooking shows and culinary trends. His take on modernist cuisine? “My grandmother used to say, ‘Don’t eat anything you don’t recognize…But that’s what molecular gastronomy is all about. That gets tiring after a while, though. Sometimes you just want a taco and a beer.”

Although he may be retiring from television, Pépin will certainly continue to influence both home cooks and professional chefs though his many cooking shows and the previously-mentioned slew of cookbooks. Volumes popular with EYB Members include Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food, Fast Food My Way, and Jacques Pépin’s Complete Techniques.

What have you learned from Pépin’s cooking programs or cookbooks?

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  • Rinshin  on  November 5, 2014

    He is the best. Love this man, his food, and his passion for cooking.

  • Jnachow1  on  November 8, 2014

    I watched him expertly debone, stuff and roast a chicken on one of his episodes. It's been my go to dish for the last 30 years

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