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C’est pas vrai! Jacques Pépin is hosting his last-ever TV cooking series, so tune in to your public TV station for his final “Happy cooking!” program: Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul.

Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul - Jacques Pépin
Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul: Jacques Pépin – Photo © 2014 Kevin Berne, courtesy of KQED and APT

For as much as his legions of fans would wish it to be otherwise, Jacques Pépin is bringing his cooking show days to a close with one final series: Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul.

The title says it all.

Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul is filled with just that — the cherished family, friends, and foods that the famed chef’s life has centered on for nearly 80 years. While screening two of the series’ 26 episodes, I was so touched, moved, and inspired by Pépin that I got teary-eyed on several occasions (especially when he’s with his granddaughter) and wanted to cook up right then and there a Spanish tortilla and a dish with tripe and pig’s feet. (I did a few days later and can attest that offal can be seriously yummy stuff.)

Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul: Jacques Pépin with family
Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul: Jacques Pépin with family – Photo by Wendy Goodfriend, courtesy of KQED and APT

Before getting into the soup-to-nuts of the series, let’s quickly review who Jacques Pépin is. Holding the title of Chevalier de l’ Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest honor bestowed by the French Government, Pépin is a renowned chef and host of acclaimed and popular cooking shows on public television, the author of more than 25 books, and a gifted artist. A former columnist for The New York Times and contributing editor to Food & Wine magazine, he is the Dean of Special Programs at the International Culinary Center in New York and has taught at Boston University for more than 25 years.

For his television series and books, Pépin has won numerous awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and James Beard Foundation, the latter of which inducted him into its Cookbook Hall of Fame in 1996 and honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Pépin has also cooked and entertained viewers alongside his friend, the late, great Julia Child, in the PBS series Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, which won a Daytime Emmy® Award in 2001 and still appears on public TV stations.

Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul
Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul – Chef Jacques Pépin – Photo c© 2014 Kevin Berne, courtesy of KQED and APT

Pépin’s final television series, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul, highlights his 60 years in the kitchen, and includes more than his fabulous recipes, incredible technique, and must-know lessons on prepping ingredients and preparing dishes. It touches on his apprenticeship as a 13-year-old cooking in some of Paris’ most revered establishments, such as the Meurice and Plaza Athénée hotels, and his cooking for French President Charles De Gaulle. The program also notes Jacques’ entering the kitchens of New York at Le Pavillon, plus his 10 years as director of research at Howard Johnson’s.

This is Jacques’ most personal program, featuring his favorite clips from his earlier TV series and never-before-seen footage that gives us an intimate look at his life — from playing boules at home with his best friend Jean-Claude Szurdak and buying eggs at a local chicken farm near his home with his granddaughter Shorey, to sailing the seas, gathering clams, and tucking into lobster rolls at his favorite shack. Throughout Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul, the celebrity chef shares memories, anecdotes, and insights into his philosophy of life.

Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul: Jacques Pépin and granddaughter Shorey
Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul: Jacques Pépin with granddaughter Shorey – Photo by Wendy Goodfriend, courtesy of KQED and APT

Taped during the fall of 2014 in the San Francisco studios of series’ producer KQED and at the Connecticut home that Jacques shares with his wife, Gloria, and their two poodles, Paco and Gaston, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul features creative recipes that combine Pépin’s culinary history and travel experiences with his expert teaching of the skills that are a must for success in the kitchen. Simple dishes for the novice and more involved ones for the seasoned cook are shown, and frugal tips are offered.

The series also highlights his passion for using the best provisions for meals, whether through tending his garden or foraging in the woods behind his home or on the nearby beach. Pépin reminisces on these times, as well as on his friendships with Julia Child and other chefs, and the little “problems” that have occurred during recordings in the studio.

Occasionally, family and friends, including Chef Martin Yan, are invited to cook alongside Jacques or join him in the dining room. Chefs from across the nation also contribute to the program, whether from their own kitchens, through archival footage, or via on-camera acknowledgment of Jacques’ tutelage and influence.

Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul - Jean-Claude Szurdak and Jacques Pépin
Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul: Jean-Claude Szurdak and Jacques Pépin – Photo by Wendy Goodfriend, courtesy of KQED and APT

For a complete list of the series’ episodes and their descriptions, visit the Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul website.

But wait, there’s more!

The series culminates with Pépin’s 80th birthday special, featuring a celebratory feast prepared for Pépin by guest chefs Lidia Bastianich, Rick Bayless, and Ming Tsai. The special was filmed in front of a live audience at Farallon Restaurant, and premieres December 2015.

“The opportunity to reflect on my time in the kitchen and in front of the camera is such a gratifying experience for me,” said Pépin. “I am able to share new recipes with viewers while also sharing special moments of my life — and I get to have my family and friends join me for this wonderful experience.”

Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul premieres nationally on these public TV stations, beginning tomorrow, Saturday, 19 September 2015. (Check your local listings for air dates and times.)

KQEDThe exception is KQED, which debuted the program on Saturday, the 12th. Viewers can watch (or re-watch) the first episode, and subsequent ones as the series progress, online and for a limited time only, at the Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul website, starting the 19th of September.

KQED Public Television, the PBS affiliate that serves Northern California, has produced 14 of Jacques Pépin’s cooking series, including The Complete Pépin, Essential Pépin, and Jacques Pepin: Fast Food My Way, amongst others.

Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul is produced by Tina Salter, directed by Paul Swenson, and executive produced by KQED’s Chief Content Ofiicer Michael Isip. The series is is produced by KQED and distributed by American Public Television (APT).

This series’ companion cookbook, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul in the Kitchen, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in October 2015. It provides an intimate look at the celebrity chef at home with family and longtime friends, presents the food he cooks today, and includes 200 recipes.

Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the KitchenIllustrated with Jacques’ watercolors and more than 100 full-color photos of the food and the chef in his element, and spiced with his reminiscences and stories about Julia Child and James Beard, amongst others, Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen reveals the philosophy of the chef who taught millions of Americans how to cook, revealing his frank and witty views on everything from molecular gastronomy and how he creates recipes, to (parents, take note) how one can raise a child who will eat almost anything.

The cookbook features the simple dinners that Jacques prepares for his wife Gloria, such as the world’s best burgers (the secret is ground brisket) or broiled sole with chive butter, as well as elegant dinners for small gatherings. These might begin with a tantalizing starter of Camembert cheese with a pistachio crust, and conclude with foolproof little chocolate soufflés that can be prepped in advance. Also included are dishes for spirited pétanques parties in Jacques’ backyard, such as grilled chicken tenderloin in an Argentinean chimichurri sauce of cilantro and scallions.

Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen shows the many sides of a man who has always been ahead of his time. A proponent of the nose-to-tail eating that is currently popular with young chefs, Jacques includes recipes for choice morsels, such as calves’ liver and lambs’ tongue. As an unabashed lover of the supermarket, he also demonstrates ways to make impromptu feasts for drop-in guests using convenience foods. And as a locavore long before the word was even coined, Jacques shares recipes for the bounty he forages, from dandelions, rose hips, and locust blossoms, to periwinkles, crabs, and whitebait from the nearby ocean… This book is a keeper, just like Jacques.


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Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul: Renowned Chef’s Final Series – Happy Cooking!
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