One of America’s best-known chefs, cookbook authors, and cooking teachers, Jacques Pépin has published 25 cookbooks and hosted nine acclaimed public television cooking series. Pépin’s latest book, More Fast Food My Way, contains dozens of elegant "minute" recipes, and was published in August 2008 by the Houghton Mifflin Company. It follows Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook, published in April 2007 by Stewart Tabori & Chang, containing 100 of his favorite recipes and showcasing his art and his essays on food history and cooking. His bestselling memoir, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, was published in hardcover in 2003 and in paperback in 2004 by the Houghton Mifflin Company.
Pépin PBS-TV series, The Complete Pépin, featured his renowned cooking techniques. Produced by KQED-TV in San Francisco, it began airing on public television stations nationwide in Fall 2007, and is also available on DVD. His last series, Fast Food My Way, debuted in 2004 along with a companion cookbook that was published by Houghton Mifflin. A follow-up PBS series and cookbook, both entitled More Fast Food My Way, followed in 2008. His new series The Essential Pépin will air in the fall of 2011, and the companion cookbook, Essential Pépin: More than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Cooking will be released in October 2011.
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 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, a position that taught him about mass production, marketing, food chemistry, and American food tastes. He studied at Columbia University during this period, ultimately earning an M.A. degree in 18th-century French literature in 1972.
A former columnist for The New York Times, Pépin writes a quarterly column for Food & Wine. 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 October, 2004, Pépin received France’s highest civilian honor, the French Legion of Honor, at a presentation in New York. He is also the recipient of two other of the French government’s high honors: 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 Culinary Trust has created The Jacques Pépin Scholarship Fund, offering the opportunity for professional culinary study to high school minority students, and in 2008, he won a Lifetime Achievement Award from The James Beard Foundation. 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.