As many foodies know, the late American chef Julia Child would have turned 103 today. Widely considered to be TV's first cooking personality, the California native was lauded for adapting complex French recipes in a highly entertaining and easily digestible way for everyday Americans on her hit show, The French Chef.
And throughout her illustrious culinary career, French chef Jacques Pépin stood by her side. Their Emmy Award-winning mini-series, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, exhibited both their love for home cooking and their almost 50-year-long friendship. In honor of Child's birthday, we reached out to Pépin for his thoughts on her legacy, as well as the series premiere of his final show, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul, which airs September 19 on PBS.
What was it like working with Child?
We met in 1960, and we had been friends for many years before we started the show, so we were very comfortable with each other. It was a 30-minute segment, and we didn’t even have recipes, if you can believe it. We had that kind of mutual respect that you have with a friend or a spouse when you do something you love together.
What was the most important lesson she taught you?
We're both hyper-organized, but Julia knew how to make people feel at home. She was always very gracious with every guest and willing to give young chefs advice. At the same time, she was very honest—she'd tell you if a dish was good or bad.
What can we expect from Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul?
This will be my 14th and final series with PBS. Julia and I loved working with the network because they gave us a lot of freedom to do what we want. This one will be very personal. I'll be cooking with my daughter and granddaughter. I'll be sharing our family traditions: what we love to eat and drink. I'm very proud of it.