About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why I read Jacques Pepin's book The Apprentice

In my last post I put up a review of The Apprentice - My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin.

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
    Butter Rosette;

    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
    approachable cuisine.

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.


  1. Bill, Pepin's is an inspiring story. His view on the emergence of the celebrity chef was so very apt. He put that very well. Thanks for writing about Jacques Pepin.

  2. Bill - Oh, it sounds as though there was some wonderful food aboard that cruise - Yummmm.... I don't blame you for getting interested in the person behind all that. And the interview is interesting too. And I love his view on having too learn the skills and do the job rather than see oneself as the key. The food is the thing.

  3. Prashant: Thanks for the comment. He is a most unpretentious celebrity!

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment. You would enjoy eating on Marina. I think he may be alittle too modest but I say far better than the highly egotistic. Definitely the food is at the core of his cooking.