The chef and James Beard Foundation President dish on the upcoming National food event
The Daily Meal caught up with legendary chef and food personality Jacques Pépin at the launch of the Taste America tour at the James Beard Foundation sponsored by Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature to learn about how his travels have influenced his work. Pépin is an award-winning French chef who is known for his best-seller cookbooks, TV shows (in both America and France), and friendship with culinary icons like Julia Child, Craig Claiborne, and James Beard.
The Daily Meal: What has been your most inspirational food experience while traveling?
Jacques Pépin: I’ve talked about this in my memoir and this is still true. When I was small and growing up in France during the war, I had to leave my family for a period of time. I moved from Lyon to a small farm in the French countryside and it was there where I saw a cow being milked for the first time. I also eventually learned how to milk a cow.
I was amazed by this experience! From that moment on, I knew I was very passionate about food. You know, I actually tried taking some of my grandchildren to a farm recently in hopes that they would have a similar experience. We’ll see if it was influential, but they were definitely surprised!
TDM: What’s your favorite kitchen souvenir from your travels?
JP: I already have too many things in my kitchen, so it’s not a knife or a pot or something like that. It would have to be caviar from wherever. I love it so much and I actually think that my wife now expects for me to bring some back for her whenever I come home from a trip! It’s delicious and easy to travel with…
TDM: If you could eat your way through one country, which one would it be and why?
JP: I love traveling and eating in Mexico. I would just be there with my family, with my dog, and just eat simply, you know? That’s what food and eating are about – it’s not just about the dish itself, but an entire experience.