Meeting Jacques Pépin (podcast)Dec 27th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: Featured Articles, podcast, the show
When I found out the 2011 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) annual conference was coming to my hometown of Austin, Texas in June of that year, I felt we’d truly secured our role as a player on the world culinary stage.
I knew the conference would draw industry luminaries, but I had not expected Chef Jacques Pépin would be in attendance. I have admired Chef Pépin for many years, and from the moment I learned he was going to be in town, I was determined to meet and talk with him.
As it turned out, all I had to do was ask my friend, colleague, and former IACP President, and conference PR maven, Cathy Cochran-Lewis, who I needed to talk with to secure an interview with the legendary chef, and she said, “You’re talking to her.”
We agreed on 3 p.m. Friday June 3 for the interview, but when I arrived Cathy asked if we could push it back to 3:30 as Chef Pépin’s books signing was running long.
Cathy and I walked the Trade Show floor in a huge ballroom of the Downtown Austin Hilton Hotel. After about 15 minutes she excused herself to check on chef while I continued to roam about and talk with other interesting folks.
I’m not sure how much time passed before I spied Cathy looking around the ballroom a bit frantically. I caught her attention, and she rushed up to me saying chef had forgotten about the appointment, and she’d found him in the hotel bar having a drink waiting for a cab to take him back to his hotel.
She told me she caught him just in time and that he’s was fatigued and wanted to go back to his hotel for a nap before the evening’s festivities.
So Cathy and I hightailed it two floors down to where the 75 year old legend sat at a round table in the rear of a large empty meeting room. The sunlight streaming into the space from the massive window behind him made Chef appear absolutely radiant as he thumbed through an issue of Edible Austin magazine.
He stood when I entered and took my hand in greeting. He looked exactly like himself (albeit a little tired), and could not have been more gracious, generous or lovely. I’m just glad I was recording our conversation because all I really remember hearing was the giddy, giggly voice in my head that kept repeating, I’m talking to Jacques Pépin! I’m sitting right next to Jacques Pépin! Wow!
Honestly — the giddiness has yet to wear off.