While it never hurts to add a new cookbook to your collection, there are plenty of other food-related books out there that deserve just as much attention. The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen is the memoir of Jacques Pépin, one of the most well known and most beloved chefs in American pop culture.
Pépin has published more than 20 books and starred in 13 television shows, including the Emmy award winning Jacques and Julia Cook at Home, but unlike “celebrity chefs” that started out by winning a reality show, Pépin’s career began with a love of and appreciation for food that he developed as a child growing up in France during WWII. His mother was a restaurateur and he and his brothers grew up with food as a huge part of their lives, so it was no surprise when young Jacques decided at 13 that he wanted to become a chef and left home to receive classical training through apprenticeship. From humble beginnings, Pépin goes on to work in some of the best kitchens in Paris, to be the personal chef for French President Charles de Gaulle and to move to America where he – along with friends like Pierre Franey, James Beard, Craig Claiborne, and Julia Child - helped to shape the face of modern American cuisine.
Jacques Pépin is as good a storyteller as he is a chef, and that makes the book – and the characters in it – come alive as you read it. The stories are told with charm and humor that draw you in and won’t let you put the book down, especially if you’re interested in food and food writing. When I’m writing about a cookbook, I want to try to give you a sense of the recipes that are in the book so that you’ll know what to look forward to when you open it. With this book, the whole story from start to finish is so interesting that I don’t want to give away a single moment of it because Pépin’s story is so well put together. It’s a fun, fascinating book that will leave you hunrgy for more – and leave you with a deeper appreciation of food in general, as well as of Pépin himself.