Culinary Zeal: A Review of The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen

By March 4, 2009 culture No Comments

The naturally adventurous inspire the rest of the world to dream and be.

As part of the latter category, I love to soak up the zeal I find in those who are of the former.

Jacques Pepin is one such an adventurist in whom I found much zeal. His life holds all manner of quaintness coupled with grand celebrity. I first encountered Pepin attending his cooking demonstration with my aunt at the 2007 Kohler Food and Wine Experience; it was one of the liveliest sessions we’ve been to, with much conviviality. And the source of this merriment was Pepin, his personality seeming to infuse the food and the crowd with a seasoning of its own. Maybe it’s due in part to his French accent?

[Any time I hear the French language or a French accent, I remember with melancholic fondness my attempt to study the language back in high school and college. Learning (relearning?) French in full is another dream on this dreamer’s heart.]

After such an entertaining demonstration, I was led to pick up Pepin’s memoir to get a closer look at his life. The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen details Pepin’s early years in his mother’s French country restaurants and on throughout his fascinating career that produced world-renowned fame for the chef. Interspersed among his cooking tales and the outline of his one-of-a-kind career path are his favorite recipes and French cooking techniques. These gave the book a personal touch, as if all were hand-copied—complete with whimsical sketches and doodles!—straight from Pepin’s family recipe cards.

I was most impressed by Pepin’s focused passion for all-things cuisine. His entire being was immersed in culinary life; it seemed he lived and breathed by his work in the kitchen.

How few people find themselves in such a situation! It is said that when you love your job, you never work a day in your life. In this respect, Pepin is an inspiration.


This book is my second read for the Well-Seasoned Reader challenge.

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