Chef and Columbia alumnus Jacques Pépin (GS '70, GSAS '72) came back to campus to celebrate the opening of the new kitchen at Maison Française in Buell Hall. The kitchen will be used to create programming on French and international cuisine, including cooking demonstrations by invited chefs, classes on culinary history and culture, and other food-related events.
The evening started with a discussion between Pépin and New Yorker staff writer and essayist Adam Gopnik, who played the role of sous chef during a demonstration and tasting of recipes from Pépin’s newest cookbook, Essential Pépin.
During the discussion, Pépin reflected on his life as a French chef and emissary of French cooking in America since his arrival in New York in 1959. Their conversation explored the influence of French cuisine on American tastes and cooking habits and the current state of the culinary arts in France and the U.S.
Pépin, who cooked for three French heads of state as France's "First Chef" before coming to the U.S. in his 20s, earned a master's degree and embarked on a Ph.D. in French literature before deciding to return to his first love, cooking.
He has been widely influential in revolutionizing American cooking, bringing French techniques and recipes into American kitchens through his television series and cookbooks. Pépin has won several awards from the James Beard Foundation, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Legion of Honor.
Visit the Columbia Maison Française website for more information.