Jacques Pépin teaches his granddaughter, Shorey Wesen (Photo: Tom Hopkins)
Bread and butter. That is what chef Jacques Pepin told an interviewer when asked what food he remembered most from childhood. It was simple food rendered extraordinary by his mother’s careful preparation. In nearly seven decades of cooking, teaching, and hosting 14 cooking series on TV, the soft-spoken Frenchman has made it look easy. But then, it’s what he loves to do. He has shared his philosophy while cooking alongside the legendary Julia Child and daughter Claudine. Now, the most famous cooking teacher in the world has a new kitchen apprentice: his granddaughter Shorey Wesen.
Ever since she was very young, Shorey has loved “helping” him in the kitchen. Now that she is 13, Pepin is giving his favorite pupil a short course on preparing “food that is plain, but elegant, and more than anything, fun.” In the process, he proves himself as inspiring to her as he is to the country’s greatest chefs.
Working with his young assistant has inspired the creation of recipes such as curly hot dogs, spinach with croutons, sushi salmon cakes, skillet bread and homemade butter, and raspberry cake—all among the dishes with kid appeal included in Pepin’s new book, A Grandfather’s Lessons. Along with technique, the book imparts lessons in kitchen etiquette, from how to set a table to how to fold a napkin properly—even how to load a dishwasher. And perhaps the most important lesson of all: that the best meals are the ones shared at home with family.
Listen to a delightful conversation as Pepin and Shorey sit down with Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post.
A Grandfather’s Lessons (Rux Martin Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is available for sale and signing.