Jacques Pépin on Food Trends, Picky Eaters and Cooking with Kids
Who better to interview famous chef Jacques Pépin than one of the people who knows him best? His granddaughter, Shorey, chats with him about how to get kids to eat—and cook— good food.
Shorey: How did becoming a parent and then a grandparent change how you cook?
Jacques: With Claudine [his daughter and Shorey's mom], I held her in my arms and had her stir the pot. With you, if I give you something to eat and you don't want it, that's your mother's problem. It's easier!
S: My mom and I aren't picky eaters and we love cooking. Do you have any advice for parents whose kids are fussier?
J: Just give them wine—a couple of drops. Kidding! But you have to get the kids involved. Get them into the kitchen and have them peel a potato, little things, because if they get involved they will at least try the food later.
S: I want to be neurosurgeon when I grow up, but if I told you I want to become a chef what would you do?
J: If you want to be a chef, train as a neurosurgeon— then you would know how to bone-out a chicken. But no, if you really wanted to be a chef, I would send you to school to learn the proper techniques, and then I would send you to the best restaurant I know to deepen your understanding of cooking. Eventually you would do your own food.
S: How is food in America different from when you arrived, and what other changes would you like to see in my lifetime?
J: When I came to America in 1959, there was only one lettuce at the supermarket— iceberg. There were no leeks or shallots or stuff like that. What I'd like people to do is go back to what my parents did when I was a kid: Cook with their children and share time around the table, enjoying the food and talking. The kitchen is a great equalizer.
S: Are there any food trends that worry you?
J: Yes—if you don't eat enough butter or bread or drink enough wine, that's going to worry me a lot. But no, American food has never been as good as it is now. I'm optimistic.