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Tag: jacques pepin

Happy Cooking


Couple of off-days before baseball starts again. No better time to catch up on some reading. Here’s a GQ story by Brett Martin about a couple of encounters with one of our heroes, Jacques Pepin. Think you’ll enjoy:

We sat at a table at L’Ecole, a few feet from where our first meal together had been. A woman approached the table, one of a stream throughout the evening, to say hello and thanks for a cooking lesson she had attended years before. Pépin ordered some wine and bread—requesting the hard heel of the loaf—the croûton—which, to his chagrin, he had noticed being thrown out the day before.

“This is my favorite part,” he said, cradling a handful of crumbs in his hand and shaking them ruminatively, like dice, before funneling them into his mouth.

We ordered charcuterie and homemade cavatelli with rock shrimp and two whole Fourchu lobsters—a special variety found only in the cold waters around an island in Nova Scotia. The ICC was housing a pondful of them somewhere in Bushwick.

We talked about the state of modern chefdom. He was clear-eyed but uncranky. The undercooking of everything, especially vegetables, drove him crazy. So did excessive culinary piety: “I’ve been in restaurants where they bring over a carrot and say ‘This carrot was born the ninth of September. His name is Jean-Marie…’ Just give me the goddamned carrot!'” Young chefs, he said, had become overly concerned with self-expression. Nouvelle cuisine had been about many things: fresher ingredients, new techniques, a sensitivity to place and season, healthier preparations, creativity, innovation. Out of all those mandates, chefs sometimes seemed to have only heard the final two. “That’s how you wind up with a slice of rock salt in a bowl of raspberry ice cream,” he said.

He sighed. “But we tend to do that. This is America. We go totally from one end of the spectrum to the other end.” In the end, the job was still and would always be the same. “We are the mashed potato makers,” he said. “We are here to please people.”

[Photo Via: CTPost]

Taster’s Cherce

Jacques does tarts on the latest episode of Essential Pepin. Wonderful, and he’s charming with his granddaughter, too.

[Photo Credit: Saveur]

Taster’s Cherce

Check the technique with one of our heroes, Jacques Pepin.

“What’s the best knife?”

“A sharp one.”

The Essential Pepin, man, I can’t wait.

Taster’s Cherce

Master Class in Session…

Taster's Cherce

When in doubt, turn to Jacques:

Taster's Cherce

Some words (and recipes) from the master, Jacques Pepin, in a long interview at Powells.com:

We had to go to school at that time until age fourteen to finish primary school. Certificate étude. I was doing fine in school. I’m saying that only in that I didn’t have to leave school. My brother didn’t, and he became an engineer. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to go into the kitchen and cook.

I liked the hustle, bustle, excitement, the sweating and yelling of the kitchen. I liked it very much; my brother didn’t. The other choice I would have had maybe was to become a cabinetmaker because my father was a cabinetmaker, doing fancy furniture, which we call ébéniste in France. And I still like to work wood. I was in Claudine’s house yesterday, looking at a table I did a few years ago. Pretty rough, but it’s still there.

I like to work with my hands, and I feel that anyone involved in food has to become a craftsman first. A technician. That doesn’t mean you have talent. It just means that you are able to move very fast and do things properly in an orderly manner, in a miserly manner. Certainly if you’re a jeweler or a carpenter or a surgeon, you first and foremost have to become a technician, to have the manual dexterity to dominate that trade. If you happen to have talent, now you have the know-how in your hand; you have the means to express this and bring it to a higher level.

If you look at the reverse: I know young chefs who have a lot of talent, but they’re technically very bad. The food doesn’t come out the way it should. I can do an analogy with my painting. I’ve been painting for thirty years. I do illustrations in my books. But I have never spent, like a professional painter, five hours every day in a studio, working, working, working, so I don’t really have much technique. I start a painting and sometimes it comes out halfway good, and I’m the first one astonished. Often I get disgusted because whatever I have in my head, my hand is not able to express it the way I want. I’m not good enough technically.

Taster's Cherce

The MAN:

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver