A culinary legend tells his story, from boyhood in wartime France to stardom in America, and shares favorite recipes: “A delicious book…a joy.”—The New York Times Book Review
In this memoir, the man Julia Child called “the best chef in America” tells of his rise from a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old World kitchen to an Emmy Award-winning superstar who taught millions of Americans how to cook and shaped the nation’s tastes in the bargain.
We see Jacques as a homesick six-year-old in war-ravaged France, working on a farm in exchange for food, dodging bombs, and bearing witness as German soldiers capture his father, a fighter in the Resistance. Soon Jacques is caught up in the hurly-burly action of his mother's café, where he proves a natural. He endures a literal trial by fire and works his way up the ladder in the feudal system of France’s most famous restaurant, finally becoming Charles de Gaulle's personal chef, watching the world being refashioned from the other side of the kitchen door.
When he comes to America, Jacques falls in with a small group of as-yet-unknown food lovers, including Craig Claiborne, James Beard, and Julia Child, whose adventures redefine American food. Through it all, he proves to be a master of the American art of reinvention: earning a graduate degree from Columbia, turning down a job as John F. Kennedy's chef to work at Howard Johnson’s, and, after a near-fatal car accident, switching careers once again to become a charismatic leader in the revolution that changed the way Americans approached food. Also included are approximately forty favorite recipes created in the course of his career, from his mother's utterly simple cheese soufflé to his wife's pork ribs and red beans.
“Fascinating.”—The Washington Post
“Beguiling.”—The New Yorker
“As lively and personable as Pepin himself.”—The Boston Globe