Jacques Pépin is one of America's best-known chefs, food columnists, cookbook authors, and cooking teachers. He has been the chef for three Presidents of France, as well as for some of the country's most prestigious hotels, and he has written more than 20 books. He is well known for his acclaimed French-cooking show and his many appearances with Julia Child.
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. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the School of General Studies at Columbia, Pépin was honored with four other distinguished alumni of the School, each representing a different decade in its history.
Pépin shared the spotlight with Julia Child in an early PBS-TV series that still is shown occasionally on public television stations. This twenty-two show series, entitled "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home," was the winner of The James Beard Foundation’s Award for Best National Cooking Show—2001, and the duo received a 2001 Daytime Emmy Award from The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. There is a companion cookbook to the series he did with Child and also to two earlier public television series he co-hosted with his daughter: Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Encore with Claudine (1998) and Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine (1998).
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 programs such as The Late Show with David Letterman, The Today Show, and Good Morning America.
Pépin is the recipient of two of the French government’s highest honors: he is a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1997) and a Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole (1992). The Dean of Special Programs at The French Culinary Institute (New York), he also is an adjunct faculty member at Boston University. He is a founder of The American Institute of Wine and Food, a member of the International Association of Cooking Professionals, and is on the board of trustees of James Beard Foundation. He and his wife, Gloria, live in Madison, Connecticut.