Jacques Pepin is one of America's best-known chefs. He is the author of 24 books, including a best-selling memoir, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. He has also hosted nine public television cooking series, the most recent of which is called More Fast Food My Way. Pepin was born in rural France and his first exposure to cooking was in his parents' restaurant, Le Pelican. He began his formal apprenticeship at the age of thirteen and went on to work in Paris as the personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle. He moved to the United States in 1959 and studied at Columbia University. Pepin is a former columnist for The New York Times and now writes a quarterly column for Food & Wine. He received France's highest civilian honor, the French Legion of Honor, in 2004. He lives in Madison, Connecticut.
Question: What ingredients do you always have on hand?
Jacques Pepin: Well if I open the refrigerator, I’m going to have eggs. I’m going to have onion. I’m going to have certainly a shallot. Probably two or three type of vegetable or salad. I always have plenty in my refrigerator along with beer, and milk, and probably some cream as well. So those are ingredients that are in the refrigerator. And in the pantry I have a fair amount of cans . . . from canned tuna . . . But again they are quality – from extraordinary tuna in cans from Portugal or somewhere else. I had not long ago some apricot in can from Morocco. They were just fantastic, you know? And so again . . . Or beans. I mean different types of beans. And there is nothing wrong with canned beans, because if I cook beans I will take beans, water and salt and basically that’s what I’m going to have in that can. There is nothing foreign in that can that I wouldn’t want to have in term of chemical product or whatever.
Recorded on: 09/04/2007