Julia Child once called Jacques Pepin, the “best chef in America.” He is credited for teaching millions of Americans how to cook through his television series and many cookbooks, including Essential Pepin and Fast Food My Way. Taking basic cooking principles from his French kitchen, he translated his love of cooking into basic recipes for making staple dishes, available to the masses, teaching us that home-cooked food was within reach of everyone.
Last night at the opening reception at the IACP, the International Association of Culinary Professionals in Washington DC, Pepin skyped in to celebrate his 80th birthday party, marked by 80 (actually, over 100) magnificent birthday cakes from top chefs and bakeries across the country. Pepin suffered a minor stroke this week but looked in good health and spirit, as he toasted with a libation in hand. Clearly he was admired as a inspirational mentor by a multi-generational following of culinary professionals including Anthony Bourdain, Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart, Jose Andres, Thomas Keller, who spoke about his impact on their careers.
The take away message is that teaching home cooking can have long reaching benefits which will add to enjoyment and celebration of life. Good food is not hard to make and according to Pepin, “food is love.”
Our next generations will hopefully continue the passion for home cooking, while taking into account the numerous health benefits of selecting our ingredients, appreciating nutrient rich foods and limiting the processed foods that we put in our bodies.
The cakes were so beautiful, I want to share some of the pictures. I brought three home with me and can’t wait to taste them my family and friends. Not sure if we will have room for dinner, though!