A couple of weeks ago I saw that Jacques Pepin posted on his Facebook page that he and his wife Gloria would be spending a few weeks on Amelia Island. I joked to my husband, Mike, that it would be cool to go to Amelia Island and stalk him. Totally kidding of course about the stalking. Anyway, this past Tuesday he posted that he would be doing a book signing at the Amelia Island Book Festival today. I was determined to go and relieved that I wouldn’t have to resort to driving all over Amelia Island hoping to catch a glimpse of him.
Jacques Pepin is truly inspiring and I highly suggest reading his autobiography The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. He worked in his parents restaurant, he worked in Paris and trained under renowned chefs, and even became the personal chef to Charles de Gaulle. Jacques came to the United States in 1959 and in 1961 Howard Johnson hired him to develop food lines for his chain of Howard Johnson’s restaurants. He later went on to teach cooking all across the United States, host a number of TV shows on PBS and author over two dozen cookbooks. In addition to being a world-renowned chef, he is also an accomplished artist – see The Artistry of Jacques Pepin.
My little blurb above is only a tiny fraction of his amazing life and career which is why you should definitely check out his autobiography.
Most people can probably handle themselves when meeting someone famous. Not me. I get completely star struck, flustered and googly-eyed. After I meet someone famous I literally cannot recall what I said to them or what they said to me. And then I feel awkward wondering if I just asked them if I could touch their hair or something. This is what I’m pretty sure I said to Jacques Pepin when I met him today: “It’s so amazing to meet you. Your life and career are so inspiring.” Not too bad and I think I even managed to get that all out in a complete sentence without stumbling over my words. Also, he said my name “Michelle” with two “L’s” is the classic French spelling which was kind of cool.
Jacques Pepin was a delight to meet. He was warm and seemed to genuinely enjoy meeting and chatting with people. At 81 years old he still seems to have a great passion for life and food. This was an amazing and probably a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll always remember and treasure.