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The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen

by Jacques Pépin

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8112026,684 (4.04)19
In this captivating memoir, the man whom Julia Child has called "the best chef in America" tells the story of his rise from a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old World kitchen to an Emmy Awardwinning superstar who taught millions of Americans how to cook and shaped the nation's tastes in the bargain. We see young Jacques as a homesick six-year-old boy 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 immediately 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, Jacques proves himself to be a master of the American art of reinvention: earning a graduate degree from Columbia University, 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. Included as well are approximately forty all-time favorite recipes created during the course of a career spanning nearly half a century, from his mother's utterly simple cheese soufflé to his wife's pork ribs and red beans. The Apprentice is the poignant and sometimes funny tale of a boy's coming of age. Beyond that, it is the story of America's culinary awakening and the transformation of food from an afterthought to a national preoccupation.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
This is a lovely, fun memoir, with lots of interesting information about rural life in France, the melding of French and American cooking in the 60's and 70's in the U.S., and even a back story about Howard Johnson's. ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
My family doctor saw me reading _Yes, Chef_, and she suggested this book to me. I enjoyed the stories of Pepin's early years. It was also interesting to see how his path differed from that of Samuelsson, the subject of _Yes, Chef_. What was similar was the influence of many different cuisines to the two chefs' styles and the importance of food in tradition and binding people together. ( )
  CarolHicksCase | Mar 12, 2023 |
Ah, this is a keeper! A memoir full of interesting bits of history (it begins with his childhood during WWII in France), lots of food stories and insights into the people who played a role in his life and career. Reading this felt like sitting around a table after dinner with a glass of wine and reminiscing with an old friend. He was not shy of telling some unflattering tales, but also not focused on them. Learning about what it took to become a chef, and how it has changed, along with how cooking has changed, was absorbing. In addition to all of that, he includes a recipe at the end of each chapter, his charming sepia ink drawings, and some great photos. ( )
  MrsLee | Dec 2, 2017 |
It's a nice book. Pepin talks about his life and how it has revolved around food. I learned a lot about how food was developed for chain restaurants and the recipes were pretty good. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
It's a nice book. Pepin talks about his life and how it has revolved around food. I learned a lot about how food was developed for chain restaurants and the recipes were pretty good. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
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I dedicate this book to my two brothers, Roland and Bichon, whose love of good food, of wine, of family, and especially of life is reflected in this book. They departed too early but will always be part of my life.
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My mother made it sound like a great adventure.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In this captivating memoir, the man whom Julia Child has called "the best chef in America" tells the story of his rise from a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old World kitchen to an Emmy Awardwinning superstar who taught millions of Americans how to cook and shaped the nation's tastes in the bargain. We see young Jacques as a homesick six-year-old boy 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 immediately 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, Jacques proves himself to be a master of the American art of reinvention: earning a graduate degree from Columbia University, 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. Included as well are approximately forty all-time favorite recipes created during the course of a career spanning nearly half a century, from his mother's utterly simple cheese soufflé to his wife's pork ribs and red beans. The Apprentice is the poignant and sometimes funny tale of a boy's coming of age. Beyond that, it is the story of America's culinary awakening and the transformation of food from an afterthought to a national preoccupation.

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