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Listen to José Andrés’ first captivating encounter with Jacques Pépin

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When Jacques Pépin’s legacy comes up, it’s oftentimes in reference to his seminal work, “La Téchnique,” and his extraordinary attention to detail. Here, chef and restaurateur José Andrés talks about his first encounter with Jacques Pépin at one of his cooking demonstrations.


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

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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.

We were in Aspen, he was with Claudine, and they were giving one of the Mason master classes, and I think that year the class was about eggs. And obviously the one moment that the one dish has to be the French omelette. And I was watching very closely from the - from the side of the stage and seeing the ritual he went through in front of a hundred people, but going through that moment of grabbing the egg - the way he handled the pan, the way he put the butter on the pan, the way he was able to temper the the right temperature with that pan: not too hot, not too cold. The moment really he cracked the eggs, the moment he grabbed a fork and began whisking in front of a hundred people. But for a second, for me, from all these processes, I was able to see a man that created this kind of space, vault, cocoon around himself where he was sharing what he knew with hundreds of people in a stage, but at the same time I feel that, like, that egg, and that omelette, really, they were filling - that is - like the egg was the only thing in the world, and that Jacques was only focused on that egg, and this is very difficult to see.

Forget that you have a hundred people watching you - but what I saw there was the amazing connection he had with with the ingredients, with simple humble techniques but then unbelievable techniques and used to see how he was able to do in less than a minute and a half probably the most perfect omelette I've ever seen in my life, to me was very special. And that moment told me more about that man than many other great stories that people will probably tell you him. And the connection he had with the fire, with the pan, with the egg, with the butter, with the right moment - the right moment to put the egg, the right moment to flip them, the right moment to do one two three touches on his wrist and turn that omelette over itself. The last moment of rolling over the omelette over the plate and being this unbelievable perfect picture already moment that was to me one of the moments that I felt man - this guy is good.