My Life in the Kitchen
By Jacques Pepin
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Compact Disc, 9780618331260)
Publication Date: April 2003
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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 Award-winning superstar who taught millions of Americans how to cook and shaped the nation's tastes in the bargain.
As a homesick boy in war-ravaged France, Jacques works on a farm in exchange for food, dodging bombs and bearing witness as German soldiers capture his father, a fighter in the Resistance. After the war he 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 France's most famous restaurant, finally becoming Charles de Gaulle's personal chef.
When Jacques comes to America, he falls in with a small group of as-yet-unknown food lovers, including Craig Claiborne, James Beard, and Julia Child. A master of the American art of reinvention, he goes on to earn a graduate degree from Columbia University, turn down a job as John F. Kennedy's chef to work at Howard Johnson's, and, after a near-fatal car accident, switch careers to become a charismatic leader in the revolution that changed the way Americans approached food.
The Apprentice is the poignant and sometimes funny tale of a boy's coming of age. It is also the story of America's culinary awakening and the transformation of food from an afterthought to a national preoccupation.
Jacques Pépin has written twenty-five cookbooks, including the best-selling Jacques Pépin Fast Food My Way, More Fast Food My Way, and his memoir, The Apprentice. He has also starred in numerous acclaimed cooking series on public television and is a contributing editor to Food & Wine. He has won multiple James Beard Awards, several IACP Cookbook Awards, and the Legion of Honor, France's highest distinction.