Coming to PBS’s American Masters tomorrow, Friday, May 26:
JACQUES PÉPIN: THE ART OF CRAFT
Peter L Stein
American Masters (May 2017)
A celebration of the acclaimed French chef and his impact on American food culture.
Stein’s entry into the long-running PBS biography series hews close to its conventions, but despite some minor superfluous re-enactments, still manages to serve up an appealing overview of Jacques Pépin’s life and culinary career. The film traces his path from apprentice work in Lyon, success as a young chef in Paris, and appointment to serve French heads of state, only to risk everything by leaving for New York City. Successfully re-establishing himself in a foreign land, he surprisingly declined multiple invitations to serve as the Kennedy White House chef in favor of taking on the challenge of running a test kitchen for Howard Johnson’s. A near-fatal auto accident a decade later set Pépin off on yet another path, putting him in the spotlight as a food writer and television host, and inspiring generations of professional and amateur chefs with his attention to the mastery of the fundamental techniques of cookery. Stein capably covers the culinary icon’s achievements, even as a minor stroke begrudgingly slows down the affable and now octogenarian Pépin from his active schedule of travel and appearances.