Clip | Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft - How contemporary chefs are still inspired by Jacques Pépin’s technique

Jacques Pépin truly mastered the art of craft, taking a technique like cleaning a chicken or de-boning a fish to new heights. Today, chefs are still inspired by the elegance in his work and movement.


Major funding for Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft is provided by Feast it Forward.

feast-it-forward-logo-fif_black-2-10-3-16

Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Vital Projects Fund, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.

Transcript Print

I grew up in India came to the United States on scholarship as a student and so I decided I would teach myself how to cook. I stumbled upon Jacques P pin's television shows and here was this guy effortlessly showing you that there was a kind of craft to cooking. Of course, he takes it to an art, but for the rest of us, at least we can learn the craft. I like it to look nice, and I want to show you how to make it so it looks nice. He had yearned to teach people to teach people about food and teach people that through cooking you are making people happy. When someone has that kind of passion, the camera sees it. Sitting at home you saw this love for food - not about being a star, but about really putting the food first, and I think - I think that's what what really set him apart from everybody else that was on TV.

I have this fascination of watching people's hands when they cook. To watch Jacques do the omelette, and hold in the pan just right, and then folding it perfectly on the plate - elegance. [PEPIN SPEAKING: And often people do this and it doesn't come open. Bring it back up grab it at the knee and crack it open here.] If you cook professionally and you watch Jacques P pin taking apart a chicken or cleaning a fish, there's a frisson of pleasure. Jacques was the first professional out there who was showing you, 'This is the way it's done, kids.'

It's a beautiful thing to watch, I mean beautiful. This looks really bad. Yeah that's bad. We'll have to cut that piece off.

Bringing Claudine on the show, like so many of the things that Jacques has done successfully in his life, seems counter-intuitive. Just - just on top? Yes.

Okay. Just spread it out exactly - just what you're doing here.

But yet again defies the conventional wisdom.

You said just this - this way. No no no no!

When my father first asked me to be on the show with him, it was extremely intimidating. This way, it goes this way.

And now you see the line here? The line is parallel to the thing. Okay.

What my father wanted from me was to ask the questions that hopefully somebody at home would have. Now these you cleaned already, right? Before we're doing this?

Wipe them off gently. The world got to see me learn literally how to cook. So many people would say, after the first series, 'Oh you knew how to do that.' I'm like, 'no no I did not.' And this is pyrotechnic cooking. Now I feel like I bring something to the table. I feel like we really work together, as opposed to just him taking me along for the ride. Here you go. Yeah, incredible. And you can have some milk.

You want some milk? Ok clink - chin chin!

Chin chin. You cannot cook great food without mixing in some love into it.

Happy cooking! Happy cooking.