Hanging out with Jacques

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Sometimes, you just have those pinch-me-is-this-really-happening experiences. Such a moment happened on the first official day of the book tour just before I went to speak at one of my favorite bookstores, R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn. As it happens, culinary icon Jacques Pepin lives nearby, and for a project on behalf of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, he invited us to the studio kitchen behind his house to film him talking about his friendship with — wait for it — Julia Child.

I had met Jacques a couple of times in passing at IACP conferences, but there we were at his kitchen talking about my personal hero and petting his cute little dog. I gave him a copy of The Kitchen Counter Cooking School and by chance, it opened up on Chapter 2, titled “What Would Julia Do?” We talked about the project and teaching, and he said, “Well, yes, that’s what she would do. She always thought of herself as a teacher. She wanted people to cook and to appreciate food. She believed in it.”

Jacques has a new book out later this month, Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food.  He had an advance copy, and we started to talk about author-type stuff and Mike mentioned Author Central on Amazon.com. So then, Jacques invited us into his actual house. To meet his lovely wife. To see what they were making for dinner. Mike even did some troubleshooting on his Mac! In the end, I think Jacques may have been more impressed with Mike than me. When Jacques mentioned he was going out to Seattle to do an event with Nathan Myrvold, he asked Mike if he knew him. To which Mike answered, “Well, sure. I did the first webchat that Microsoft ever did with Nathan.” Then Jacques asked Mike a bunch of technical questions.

Just as we left, Jacques asked where we planned to have dinner after the book event and we told him Bar Bouchee, an adorable French bistro near our bed and breakfast. Unsurprisingly, Jacques knows the owner. When we arrived, the manager brought over two flutes of champagne — from Jacques Pepin. Sigh.

Just then, Mike pinched me. But then, he does that from time to time anyway.

About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry,” “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School” and “Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good.” All are published by Viking/Penguin.


  1. The Italian Dish says:

    How crazy awesome!! What an honor.

  2. That’s so cool! I know that we already talked about this, but I wanted to let you know on here how totally awesome that is. I’m so glad that you and Mike were able to have that experience. I am in total awe of Jacques Pepin. I love him, but of course, I love you more!


  3. I always loved Jacques interaction with his peers…. He is fast becoming a part of the old school icons that are slipping away…. He was there when talent was doing better than yesterday…..

  4. Yikes, I’m SO jealous on so many levels. What an experience for you! Hope to make it to one of the Oregon tour dates, and still hoping you may make it out to Bend. I’m totally savoring the book, while pacing my reading so I don’t go through it too quickly. Take care,

  5. … love the casual title “Hanging Out With Jacques”. You must hang the picture in your kitchen for memories and inspiration – what fun, so happy for you.

  6. omg – HEAVEN!! It must have been an out-of-body experience!! How fantastic!!

  7. I grew up in Madison! And definitely remember as a child everyone getting all a twitter when Jacques Pepin would walk into the grocery store. I had the indescribable pleasure of getting a lot of access to him a couple of years ago, when I got my culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute (a career-switching decision spurred on a great deal by “The Sharper Your Knife.”) He is magnificent, and such a tremendous teacher above all.

    I also remember when RJ Julia opened when I was in high school (ages ago), and am so thrilled to hear that that independent bookstore is still open and thriving. Cannot wait to see your new book! Congratulations!


  1. […] and I shot this video of Jacques Pepin talking about Julia in his kitchen last October. As I looked at this morning, I thought, “Wow, this is a long […]

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