Jacques Pépin is turning 80 next year, and on October 18, San Francisco paid tribute to the chef who taught Americans French cuisine through his legendary television shows, The Complete Pépin, and the Emmy award-wining Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, which co-starred his good friend Julia Child. The author of the preeminent kitchen manual La Technique was celebrated at Kimpton’s Prescott Hotel by esteemed Postrio alumni during a very special evening that also commemorated the Prescott’s 100th anniversary. Pépin is currently in San Francisco shooting his new television show, Heart and Soul, and his return to the city was the perfect excuse to celebrate his vibrant personality.
It is appropriate that the Prescott honored the chef, as Pépin recalled that the hotel “has been the place I was calling home when in the Bay Area.” The Prescott’s chef, Jordan Grosser, previously the chef de cuisine at Postrio, was heavily influenced by Pépin’s grace and sagacious culinary wisdom. Before he knew he wanted to be a chef, Jordan recalls watching him on TV as a child and being fascinated by Jacque’s voice and all the delicious things he was making, so he was very excited to consult with this culinary master on the menu for the evening. Grosser took inspiration from some of Pépin’s recipes and ingredients: he remembered an eclectic ratatouille made with anchovies, olives, red peppers, poached egg, and caviar, and he paid tribute to the famous brandade au gratin, adding sea urchin and a parsley sauce; however, the squab a l’orange was the hit of the evening.
Pépin’s final cooking series, Heart and Soul, produced by KQED, will premiere on public television stations countrywide in 2015. In the series, the chef will be joined by his granddaughter, Claudine, who will cook both simple dishes for the novice and more involved creations for seasoned cooks with her celebrated grandfather.