Chef Jacques Pépin of The International Culinary Center - Biography

New York, NY

August 2010

Jacques Pépin, one of America's most celebrated chefs, has been The French Culinary Institute's Dean of Special Programs since 1988. He provides regular cooking demonstrations and student consultations, in addition to planning and implementing special events and programs at the school.

Chef Pépin was born in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, just Northwest of Lyon. He was first exposed to good cooking as a child in his parents' restaurant, Le Pélican. At 13, he began his full-time apprenticeship at the Grande Hôtel de l'Europe. Before coming to the United States in 1959 at the age of 23, he had served as personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle. In New York City, he worked at the historic Le Pavillon restaurant before joining Howard Johnson for 10 years in research and development.

Chef Pépin's memoir, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, became a national bestseller following its publication in 2003. One of America's best-known cooking teachers, he has published over 20 books and numerous articles and hosted 11 acclaimed public television cooking series, the most recent of which is Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way. Classic works include La Technique, La Methode, and Jacques Pépin's Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine, based on the television series filmed in with his daughter.

Chef Pépin's cookbooks and television series have garnered numerous honors, including the Julia Child Cookbook Award, and the James Beard Award for Best National Cooking Segment, and Best Culinary Video. Many cooks today fondly remember the "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" television series, for which both he and Julia Child won an Emmy in 2001. Chef Pépin entered the James Beard Foundation's Cookbook Hall of Fame in 1996.

A former columnist for the New York Times, Chef Pépin periodically contributes columns to Food & Wine magazine. In 2004, he received the coveted Legion d'Honneur (Legion of Honor), France's highest civilian honor; and he holds two additional French government honors: the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters Knighthood) and the Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole (National Order of Agricultural Merit Knighthood).

A founder of The American Institute of Wine and Food, Chef Pépin is also a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), and serves on the board of trustees of the James Beard Foundation.
Chef Pépin holds an M.A. in 18th-century French literature from Columbia University, which invited him to give the commencement address in May 2010. He’s also appeared recently on the Travel Channel’s “Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations” in segments dedicated to the mastery of technique.