At 86, Jacques Pépin hasn’t slowed down yet

Mr. Pépin, from a family of restaurateurs, at the age of 13 left his home in Neyron, a small town near Lyon, to learn the craft of cooking 35 miles away, in Bourg-en-Bresse, where he was born. out. And he clearly learned his craft very well: He was only in his 20s when, when he entered his mandatory military service, he became Charles de Gaulle’s personal chef. (Mrs. de Gaulle called him “petit Jacques.”)

Hungry to see the world, Mr. Pépin came to New York in 1959. His plan, he wrote in “Art of the Chicken”, was to learn English, work in the United States for a few years and then “return to about the world reality of Paris. “

Six decades on, he’s still here cooking, teaching, tasting and talking about the power of food to bring people together. “There are no religious or gender or racial apps,” he said. “Everyone is equal in the eyes of the kitchen.”

Before settling down near the Connecticut coast, Mr. Pépin lived with his wife, Gloria and their daughter, Claudine, in the Catskills, where he purchased and renovated an abandoned house. “We were at the top of the mountain. I used to ski in the driveway,” he said.

But in 1974, he fell off his bike trying to avoid a deer, broke several bones, broke his back and damaged an arm, he said, “so we decided we had to move from there.”

Knowing only that they wanted to be near New York City and Boston, Pépins sought out Madison, where they had some acquaintances, and ended up acquiring an old brick factory on four acres. The building is not in good condition, but Mr Pepin “can see a lot of possibilities.”

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