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The sparkling personality, sense of humor, and charm familiar to Jacques Pépin's television audiences carries over to the page in the superstar chef's humbly titled memoir, The Apprentice.
A clever, mischievous, and very likable boy, Pépin's earliest food memories are hungry ones from his childhood in war-torn France. After World War II, his first restaurant job was peeling potatoes for his mother at her restaurant, and he became an apprentice in a hotel kitchen at age 13. In this delightful tale he works hard, plays fair, is kind to others and good to his family, and his efforts take him to Paris, and then New York. Except for the terrible car accident that required him to reinvent himself as a teacher and television personality, he seems to have always been in the right place at the right time. He cooked for Prime Minister Gaillard and then General Charles de Gaulle, met Pierre Franey, Craig Claiborne, and Julia Child, and turned down a job cooking for JFK to accept one with Howard Johnson. But just as entertaining and enjoyable to read about are his tender memories and thoughts about his relationships with his parents and brothers, and with his wife and daughter.
We all wish we could cook like Pepin (and every chapter ends with one of Pépin's favorite recipes), but this enchanting tale will make you wish you knew him. The clear, simple way he expresses himself and the honesty with which he tells his story will bring you to tears, and make you laugh out loud. --Leora Y. Bloom --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In this fast-moving and often touching memoir, Pepin recounts his journey from the kitchen of his mother's humble restaurant in rural France after World War II to his current position as author of 21 cookbooks, star of 13 PBS cooking shows and dean of special programs at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. Along the way he describes everything from the tough French apprenticeship system that saw him dropping out of school at 13 to work in Lyon to the beginnings of the Howard Johnson's chain. Pepin accepted a job in the Howard Johnson's test kitchen over a stint at the White House cooking for John F. Kennedy , but shows no signs of regret. In fact, if there's a flaw here, it's that Pepin's eternally upbeat attitude is sometimes a little hard to buy-although he does seem to have been born under a lucky star. Pepin came to the U.S. just when a culinary culture was building and fell into friendships with Craig Claiborne, then food editor of the New York Times, and Julia Child. Even a bad car accident when he was 39 turned out to be a godsend, as it got him out of the restaurant kitchen and into the teaching profession. Pepin mines a lot of humor from the differences between French and American attitudes toward food, as when he recounts how he and a French friend once stopped by a farmsomewhere in the U.S. with a sign reading "Ducks for Sale" and wrung the neck of the duck they'd just bought in front of the horrified proprietress. Each chapter concludes with one or two recipes, many of them surprisingly earthy, such as Oatmeal Breakfast Soup with leeks and bacon.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Cute, informative, quick read, excellent stories, very insightful. Have read it twice. I am sure many European people who lived through the war years can call this story their own... Read morePublished on Jan. 3 2013 by Stanley Heal
The skills that make an awesome chef are the same skills that make an awesome writer, patience, a loving devotion to detail, an appreciation of the sensual - this has it all. Read morePublished on May 6 2004 by Shawna Lanne
I enjoyed every minute of this delectable memoir. Amusing and thoughtful; Pepin shares an intimate look from WWII France and as an ex-pat in America. I hated to see the book end.Published on April 23 2004
Julia Child (who should know!) has called him the best cook in America today. That's high praise.
Jacques Pepin's life in kitchens, beginning with his mother's cafes and... Read more
I thought I would like this book, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I came away liking the author. M. Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2003
Withy a great history of formal French training, Pepin has earned the right to toss out a cheesey 'my life in the kitchen'. His story though is much more exciting than that. Read morePublished on Oct. 8 2003 by Jason Gruss
It was an enjoyable lite read. The recipes after each chapter were interesting.
But, it is written on a sixth-grade level, so it's not something I'll reread. Read more
I enjoyed this read tremendously, and if you're into food, so will you.
Pepin writes very unassumedly, and is most humble about his very productive career, from personal chef... Read more