Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cook The Books June/July 2014 Selection: "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen" by Jacques Pépin

I was off-the-rock (aka Hawaii) and back for meetings in my old stomping grounds of Seattle in 2004, having dinner at the house of one of my favorite and coolest foodie friends and former co-worker. She had just finished The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin and offered up her copy, saying how much she liked it and how she thought I would enjoy it. Mary is the person who way-back-when introduced me to the perfection of crisp and bright green haricots verts (growing up at my house they were slightly mushy, olive-colored, and called green beans) and taught me the joys of creamed baby leeks and the swoon-worthy pairing of figs and dark chocolate. The week she moved to Seattle from San Francisco, she pulled a heavy pan and a container of aborio rice from her boxes and effortlessly stirred together a simple but amazing risotto (my first) while we drank wine and caught up in her mostly unpacked kitchen. Based on my experience, if it was food related and Mary said I was going to love it, it was pretty certain that I would.  


This proved true with The Apprentice. It's hard not to respect Jacques Pépin and be charmed by his warmth and amazed by the career he has had in his over half-century of cooking from his first apprenticeship in a restaurant at the age of 13. Now approaching the age of 79, Pépin is a prolific chef, teacher and author, writing over 20 cookbooks and hosting or co-hosting 13 different cooking shows over the years. In The Apprentice, Pépin, tells of growing up in France and working in his mother's kitchens, his time spent training and cooking in Paris, his move to the United States in 1959 and many stories of the kitchens and the people he worked with--including some of the greats like Craig Claiborne, Julia Child, and James Beard. 

Going through my stacks of hoarded books library, I came across my gifted copy and had the urge to re-read it and make it our June/July 2014 CTB selection. I hope you all find it as entertaining and engrossing as I do. (Hey, even Anthony Bourdain called it "an instant classic!"). I'm sure there will be plenty of cooking inspiration to be found with the inclusion of some of Pépin's favorite recipes in the book--not to mention the vast amount of recipes available in his plethora of cookbooks and online.


Submissions for this round of CTB are due Thursday, July 31, 2014. Anyone can join in the Cook the Books fun by reading and blogging about the book and cooking up a dish inspired by its contents. Let me know when your entry post is up by commenting on this post and/or sending me an email at: debinhawaii@gmail.com.

New to Cook the Books? Check out our About and Guidelines pages or leave a question in the comments on this post. 

Bon appétit

15 comments:

Alicia Foodycat said...

I am so impressed that you can remember your first risotto!

Camilla Mann said...

Just emailed you! I LOVED this book and we loved what we made. I'll be cooking from here for awhile. Thanks for the intro to Jacques Pepin, Deb.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Thanks Ladies!

Foodycat--it was a pretty awesome risotto & I led a sheltered food life growing up! ;-)

Camilla--you are always so on it! Glad you enjoyed the book. ;-)

Rachel said...

He's such a classy guy. I love watching him on the cooking shows. And now I look forward to diving into this great book.

Wendy Klik said...

Hi Deb, I just started on this book today but I am already intrigued and cannot wait to finish it and start cooking.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Rachel--he is a class act for sure. I hope you enjoy it!

Wendy--Welcome! It's great to have you reading and cooking along with us at CTB!

Tina said...

One of the best memoirs I have read in a long time. Halfway through and already toying with so many dishes to make.

Claudia said...

He's not only a great chef, but a very readable author as well. Am enjoying the book.

Claudia said...

My post is up:
http://honeyfromrock.blogspot.com/2014/07/o-ur-current-junejuly-at-cook-books.html Thanks for a great pick Deb.

Rachel said...

Delicieux! Such a wonderful memoir. My post is up too. Looking forward to reading everyone else's posts.

Tina said...

Great book, my post is up at Squirrel Head manor. I cross posted at my book site too.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Thanks everyone for your entries. This is turning into quite the wonderful roundup. ;-)

I posted mine today finally. A fabulous tomato soup with runny egg.
;-)

Simona Carini said...

Thanks Deb for the interesting choice. Here is my contribution http://www.pulcetta.com/2014/07/pate-olive-fichi-menta-tapenade-figs-mint.html

Looking forward to read what everybody else has written.

Simona Carini said...

I don't see Cathy's contribution on this page, so just in case, here it is http://delawaregirleats.typepad.com/blog/2014/07/bastille-day-red-white-and-blue-dessert.html

Deb in Hawaii said...

Thanks Simona--Cathy did the second "and/or choice" and emailed me her entry. ;-)