I was drawn to read the book after taking a pair of cruises with the Oceania Cruise Line. Pepin is the Executive Culinary Director for the company
In one of the ship boutiques were copies of this book and I brought a copy back from the cruise.
Oceania's website sets out his role in the company:
Jacques works closely with our team of Executive Chefs to
develop menus that blend new and exotic dishes with revered
Several of his signature dishes are always featured in the Grand Dining Room:
1.) Steak Frites: New York Strip Steak, French Fries and Garlic
2.) Poulet Rôti: Herb-Crusted Free Range Rotisserie Chicken
with Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes and Jus de Rôti; and,
3.) Suprême de Saumon: Poached Norwegian Salmon Supreme
with Rice Pilaf and Choron Sauce.
The roast chicken was my favourite. You could not have a better chicken dish.
There is a restaurant on the line's two larger ships that bears his name. The following description is alittle over the top but it is a lovely restaurant:
Enter Jacques, the eminent Jacques Pépin's first restaurant to
bear his name on land or sea, and you will be instantly struck by
the sensory pleasures. Luscious aromas waft from the gleaming
glass and brass show rotisserie in the room's heart, where duck,
pork, chicken and veal roasts slowly turn, sealing in their
succulent flavors. Handsomely decorated with rich fabrics,
heirloom antiques, pickled wood furnishings and art from
Jacques' personal collection, it resembles a classic Parisian
bistro. Exceedingly comfortable and clubby, the ambiance is
pure French, as is the cosmopolitan yet wonderfully
His cooking shows are daily features on one of the ship's onboard television channels. On the shows he had easy charm while skillfully cooking. Watching his shows made me interested in reading about him.
One of his principles emphasized throughout the book is that he abhors waste. Every bit of vegetables, fruits and meat is used in his kitchen. He will not throw away food.
The magazine Conde Naste Traveller rates the Oceania Cruise Line as having the best food among cruise lines.
In the book The Lives of the Chefs there is an interview with Pepin. It starts with a question of status:
Ellen Shapiro: You have said that before chefs became
celebrities they were relegated to the basement. To what do you
attribute the emergence of the celebrity chef?
Jacques Pepin: Twenty years ago you wouldn't have wanted your
son or daughter to be a chef. It was demeaning, low class,
considered part of the hospitality industry. When I first came to
the United States, we belonged to Local 89, the dishwashers'
union. At the time Americans had only Fannie Farmer, The Joy
of Cooking, and James Beard to teach them how to cook. Now
over a thousand cookbooks are published every year. Now all the
daily papers have food pages. Former gastronomic wastelands
have excellent restaurants. Even in academia, food is more
respected. In the late '60s I proposed a Ph.D. thesis on
gastronomy at Columbia and they looked at me as if I were
crazy. It was unthinkable. Food, a doctoral dissertation? Now I
teach at Boston University where we offer a Master of Liberal
Arts degree with a concentration in gastronomy. But the
celebrity chef is not a new idea. Respect for the chef goes up and
down. In France it reached a pinnacle at the end of the 17th
century with LaVarenne; then chefs were relatively obscure
again until Escoffier in the late 19th century. In this country the
radicalism of the 1960's led to all kinds of social changes ranging
from women's liberation to alternative gardening to the
proliferation of health food stores. Then the narcissism of the
'80s set in motion a whole new awareness, a cooking explosion.
Today, lawyers and producers who want to become chefs are
studying here. It has become very trendy, very fashionable. To a
certain extent too fashionable, but I'm not complaining because
this situation has been terrific for me. Yet after more than 43
years in the kitchen I can't take myself too seriously. We're no
great geniuses. We're still soup merchants. The problem is that
there are chefs 23 or 25 years old who really think they are
geniuses, and that's dangerous.
As I set out in the spring in my post, Cruising with a Library, the Oceania ship, Marina, has a wonderful library. Combined with great food a cruise on Marina is a wonderful vacation.