Legendary chef Jacques Pépin, whose career has spanned six decades, has, for the first time ever, collected and updated his favorite recipes for a new television series and companion book.  The 26-episode television series and companion book of more than 700 recipes are at the heart of Essential Pépin.

In this television series, his 13th produced by KQED-TV, Jacques shares more than 125 recipes. From easy to elegant, Essential Pépin, showcases Jacques’ masterful technique and his ease and flair with dishes ranging from classical Escoffier Quenelles to honey Braised Beef in Red Wine, to Poached Trout in Vegetable Broth and simple Chicken with Tarragon Butter. Jacques cooks what he loves and mouth-watering treats include basic French Fries, Soda Bread, rustic Tomatoes Maison and Brioche. Desserts range from uncomplicated Quick Almond Plum Cake and Chocolate Truffettes to the ultimate — a perfect Apricot and Pistachio Soufflé. It’s no wonder that Julia Child called Jacques “the best chef in America.”

Essential Pépin includes everything that is essential to Jacques — his love of food and cooking, his teaching and mentoring, and his family and friends. Renowned as a chef’s chef and a great teacher, Jacques begins each thirty-minute episode with an introduction and an easy to follow step-by-step recipe that demonstrates his unparalleled technique. Jacques’ influence is felt far and wide, and many master chefs have showered their praise: “I often find that with Jacques Pépin, whether on television or in print, I walk away from my time with him having learned a little something more, and I feel a bit richer for that,” stated Lidia Bastianich. Anthony Bourdain added “Jacques Pépin is The Master — the undisputed authority on … well, just about everything related to food.”

Jacques’ love of family and friends is evident in the series as he occasionally shares cooking duties with his daughter Claudine, granddaughter Shorey, best friend of fifty years, Jean-Claude, and other guest chefs.

Jacques’ classical training, solid technique and roots in traditional French cuisine are balanced with his understanding of current American trends, and the practical need to get dinner on the table. Awarded the Legion of Honor along with numerous James Beard and IACP awards, Jacques is legendary for his knowledge of food and his enthusiastic expertise in the kitchen.


LENGTH: 26 x 30 Minutes
PRODUCER:  KQED-TV San Francisco
RIGHTS TERRITORY: Worldwide, exclusive of PBS stations, USA


Episode Descriptions

Episode 101: SAVORY STAPLES — Too often we plan a meal around the protein and forget that delicious sides can stand alone… Jacques demonstrates a step-by-step recipe of RISOTTO WITH VEGETABLES that can make a perfect vegetarian meal. Other dishes include traditional DARPHIN POTATOES, sometimes known as Rosti potatoes, and an all-American SKILLET SWEET POTATO recipe. Then, in the blink of an eye, Jacques stirs together a very flavorful Middle Eastern GREEN COUSCOUS. He follows this with a CORN POLENTA WITH MUSHROOM RAGOUT, a meal that even meat lovers will love.

Episode 102: FABULOUS FINS  — Jacques lives close to the sea and has developed a taste for a variety of fins. He begins with a recipe, created by his long-term friend Jean-Claude, of CURED SALMON IN MOLASSES. Jacques prepares it step-by-step so that everyone can learn to make this mouth-watering treat. Jacques follows with TUNA STEAKS WITH TAPENADE COATING and TUNA TARTARE ON MARINATED CUCUMBERS – two very different preparations of the same fish. He also demonstrates a quick and easy Tuna Carpaccio. All this is followed by POACHED SALMON IN RAVIGOTE SAUCE. Then, utilizing skate, a fish that was often only used for bait, Jacques makes RAY MEUNIÈRE WITH MUSHROOMS.

Episode 103: SWEETS FOR MY SWEET — Jacques helps his daughter Claudine relinquish her fear of making pastry with his easy TARTELETTES AUX FRUIT PANACHES.. She goes on to assist her father in the kitchen as he makes his variation of the very traditional French, TARTE TATIN. Jacques then shares his mother’s recipe for MÉMÉ’S APPLE TART using an unusual method to make the pastry. Finally his granddaughter Shorey joins him to make–and taste–INDIVIDUAL CHOCOLATE AND NUT PIES.

Episode 104: VEG-IN! — Jacques loves vegetables and jokes that everything should be considered a vegetable, even chocolate cake! Joking aside, we all know that we don’t eat enough veggies and Jacques creates simple recipes to tempt even the most reluctant.  He begins by sharing RAGOUT OF ASPARAGUS with his friend and back-kitchen chef, David Shalleck, and explains the recipe in a step-by-step process. He goes on to feature two gratins, a colorful ZUCCHINI AND TOMATO GRATIN and a creamy CAULIFLOWER GRATIN. A very special presentation features a staring lobster nestled in artichokes in ARTICHOKE HEARTS HELEN and finally, a simple CORN TEMPURA that can be served alone or topped with smoked salmon (or even caviar.)        

Episode 105: FINE FINISHES — Never having tasted CHEESECAKE WITH APRICOT-BLUEBERRY SAUCE until arriving in America, Jacques’ brother loved it! And this is the recipe that Jacques made for him on visits to the US. Jacques also prepares the classic and creamy FLAN A LA VANILLE WITH CARAMEL-COGNAC SAUCE and a simple but decadent CHOCOLATE MOUSSE. Lastly, he makes a creamy and delicious BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING.

Episode 106: SPECIAL SPUDS — Everyone loves fries, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Jacques shows chef and restaurant owner Loretta Keller his step-by-step way to the perfect FRENCH FRY. He moves on to make smooth and creamy GARLIC MASHED POTATOES, just like his Aunt did years ago. Then another dish from his childhood, POTATO RAGOUT. The refined version of scalloped potatoes, known as GRATIN DAUPHINOISE is next and finally, a French classic, CREAM PUFF POTATOES.

Episode 107: ECONOMICAL OFFAL — Using the whole animal has always been the practice for Jacques and he assembles this make-ahead charcuterie favorite, using the oft forgotten liver in the PORK LIVER PATE step-by-step recipe. He follows this with a recipe designed to keep winter chills at bay, ROAST SAUSAGE WITH POTATOES. Next is the hearty yet chic dish of BRAISED SWEETBREADS IN MIREPOIX, it’s full of diced vegetables. Finally, a substantial country recipe for BRAISED TONGUE WITH LENTILS.

Episode 108: COZY CARBS — RICOTTA DUMPLINGS WITH RED PEPPER SAUCE are light and fluffy dumplings that Jacques prepares for an easy lunch or supper. The Summer-y ingredients of eggplant and tomatoes combine to make MACARONI BEAUCAIRE a satisfying meal. Classic GNOCCHI MAISON give Jacques the chance to share his technique for using a piping bag to shape the mixture.  Jacques finishes the episode with his very own version of LINGUINE WITH CLAM SAUCE AND VEGETABLES.

Episode 109: CLASSIC CONCLUSIONS — CREPES A LA CONFITURE are a childhood favorite of many a Frenchman including both Jacques and his best friend of 50 years, Jean-Claude.  Jacques quickly makes the crepe batter for this tasty dessert as a step-by-step demonstration in the same time that it takes to heat the pan. The show continues with ORANGE SOUFFLÉ CRÊPES that are baked until puffy in the oven. A spectacular BAKED ALASKA follows using simple ingredients that must be served straight from the oven because of the treat’s hidden frozen center. The show ends on a light note with a simply delicious APRICOT AND PISTACHIO SOUFFLÉ.

Episode 110: EASY AND ELEGANT SEAFOOD — Jacques begins the step-by-step recipe with the supreme crustacean, LOBSTER IN ARTICHOKE HEARTS. This sets the tone for a show filled with wonderful gifts from the sea. He explains that shrimp is now one of the most consumed seafood’s in the country and SHRIMP PANE ON WATERCRESS is a recipe to make them shine. Jacques used to make ESCOFFIER QUENELLES when working with Pierre Franey at the Le Pavillon in New York and now makes them for us using a food processor to make light work of the task. Finally, he waxes poetic on the virtues of one of the ugliest fishes in the sea and makes MONKFISH ROULADE stuffed full of broccoli rabe.

Episode 111: CATTLE CALL — There are times when Jacques craves a good steak, so he shows his colleague, Chef David Shalleck, how to perfectly cook and mark, GRILLED STEAK WITH LEMON-THYME BUTTER. For large get-togethers or celebrations, Jacques’ SPICY RIB ROAST packs a tangy rub and makes an impressive centerpiece. VEAL CHOPS WITH CAPER SAUCE uses the under utilized fresh sage for an herbal note, while BRAISED BEEF IN RED WINE becomes a delicious meal from an often overlooked cut.

Show 112: FRUIT FETE — Because apples are available all year, we often forget how delicious they are freshly baked, all warm and puffy, straight from the oven.  Jacques’ GOOD LADY APPLES BON FEMME recipe satisfies all apple cravings with maple sweetened fruit. In this show, Jacques goes on to add basil leaves to a STEW OF RED SUMMER FRUIT to make a deliciously flavorful, fragrant dessert. He also prepares two more simple and tasty dishes: BRAISED PEARS IN A CARAMEL SAUCE and FLAMBÉED BANANAS. Apples return as the main ingredient for the final dish of APPLE FRITTERS.

Episode 113: VEGETABLE BOUNTY — Guest chef Roland Passot of La Folie Restaurant in San Francisco joins Jacques to taste ENDIVE WITH OLIVES; Jacques demonstrates the method for making the dish in the step-by-step recipe. He moves on to prepare a hearty bowl of STEWED NAVY BEANS followed by a GRATIN OF LEEKS before Roland joins him again to make the CLASSIC RATATOUILLE and a country dish of TOMATOES MAISON.

Episdoe 114: FAMILY FAVORITES — Jacques likes to celebrate his international roots when his daughter Claudine and granddaughter Shorey visit. A dish that reflects his time in the U.S., GRILLED LEG OF LAMB is prepared in a step-by-step demonstration and then sharedwith Shorey. Jacques then makes a dish from his French heritage, PORK LOIN TOURNEDOS WITH CREAM AND CALVADOS.  Next, a recipe from his wife Gloria’s family of PUERTO RICAN PORK AND BEANS. Finally, Jacques ends the show with a stew that his mother used to make, LAMB NAVARIN.

Episode 115: ALL PUFFED UP Jacques doesn’t like to waste anything…not even the dough trimmings from his puff pastry.  He uses them to make cookies like Pigs Ears and SUGARED PUFF PASTE STICKS in the episode’s opening segment. The show begins with Jacques’ own method for making FAST PUFF PASTRY. He then transforms the chilled dough into the delicious dessert, CRYSTALLIZED PUFF PASTE OF ORANGE. The other classic recipe of Pate a Choux is demonstrated to make CHOUX À LA CRÈME, little profiteroles filled with cream. He finishes the episode with another traditional dessert using the same dough, CHOCOLATE PARIS-BREST CAKE, shaped for the bicycle race of the same name.

Episode 116: SHELL-EBRATION — CRAB CAKES WITH AVOCADO SAUCE are a hit with Jacques’ granddaughter Shorey, who shares a taste with him in the first segment. Then Jacques and Claudine reminisce about times-gone-by at the seashore hunting for clams and shellfish as they prepare dishes of OYSTERS MADISON, named after the town where he lives, and MUSSELS POULETTE and GRATINEE using wild mussels. Finally, he breaks open some huge clams (after setting them in the freezer for a while) and  prepares crispy CLAM FRITTERS.

Show 117: ROLLIN’ IN DOUGH– Simple flour and baking powder are pantry staples and the foundation of the step-by-step recipe for SODA BREAD.  Jacques goes on to add yeast to flour for a country bread called GROS PAIN. He then makes a crusty LONG PROOFED BAGUETTE. Next, Jacques adds butter to a rich dough to make a light and tender BRIOCHE. Finally, he shows us how to use up any left-over bread by making BREAD GALETTES.

Episode 118: EGG-CEPTIONAL — Soft and creamy MOLLET EGGS FLORENTINE make a perfect and easy breakfast or lunch that Jacques shares with his best friend Jean-Claude in the program’s open. He continues with an egg theme featuring EGGS IN RAMEKINS, EGGS EN COCOTTE and SCRAMBLED EGGS IN BREAD CASES WITH CANDIED OYSTER MUSHROOMS. Finally, he demonstrates how to make various omelets: a classic FINES HERBS OMELET, an American MUSHROOM OMELET and a FLAT POTATO OMELET.

Episode 119: GAME DAY — Game might sound intimidating, but it’s much easier to find in stores these days. Jacques begins with a step-by-step demonstration of VENISON STEAKS IN SWEET-SOUR SAUCE. It’s a simple recipe using cupboard staples to great effect.  Next, his SKILLET DUCK WITH RED OAK SALAD is a simple and delicious way to serve duck. Finally he reveals a rabbit and separates out the saddle to roast and makes a stew with the rest in SAUTÉED RABBIT WITH MORELS AND PEARL ONIONS. It’s really two recipes in one.

Episode 120: SOUPER SOUPS FOR SUPPER — Jacques’ step-by-step recipe of TOMATO CHOWDER WITH MOLLET EGGS is a simple soup that can be made in moments and embellished with a soft and creamy lightly cooked egg. The show continues as Jacques prepares BLACK BEAN SOUP WITH BANANAS, a dish that pays tribute to his wife Gloria’s Puerto Rican heritage. Then two soups from his childhood; GARLIC SOUP and ONION SOUP LYONNAISE-STYLE, followed by the classic French CONSOMMÉ.

Episode 121: LIGHT AS AIR— San Francisco pastry chef extraordinaire Emily Luchetti joins Jacques in the tease to admire his MERINGUE SHELLS WITH CHANTILLY CREAM. He goes on to entice any sweet tooth with almond flavored MACAROONS, simple and frugal to make. A light CHOCOLATE ROLL comes next and last, but by no means least, Emily joins him again to make an irresistible CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉ CAKE WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE.

Episode 122: GOOD CATCH! — Jacques’ diet includes plenty of seafood. He loves to create recipes from flavorful GRILLED SWORDFISH WITH SPICY YOGURT SAUCE featured in the step-by-step recipe, to homey BAKED MACKEREL WITH POTATOES AND ONIONS.  The stylish SEAFOOD WITH “HANDKERCHIEFS” highlights a wonderful seafood medley under a delicate covering of pasta-sandwiched herbs. Fresh water fish is represented with POACHED TROUT IN VEGETABLE BROTH, a very light and flavorful dish.

Episode 123: EGGS-QUISITE — Jacques follows his Aunt’s recipe for QUICHE WITH BACON using lard and butter in the dough without pre-baking the shell. He continues with the egg theme and prepares his mother’s unique dish of EGGS JEANNETTE, A savory and very tasty FLAN WITH GREEN HERBS follows, so simple to make when fresh herbs are plentiful. Jacques finishes with a delicious BROCCOLI RABE, HAM AND PARMESAN SOUFFLÉ, unusually presented in a rectangular glass dish.

Episode 124: SWEET ENDINGS — While Jacques’ long time friend Jean-Claude isn’t looking, Jacques crafts CHOCOLATE MINT TRUFFETTES that meet excited approval from Jean-Claude. Together the pair make QUICK ALMOND AND PLUM CAKE using whole plums, expertly removing the pits without damaging the fruit. Crispy TUILES À L’ORANGE follows, simple to make as long as you keep one eye on the oven while they bake! The same goes for the SUMMER CORNETS SUSIE filled with whipped cream and fresh berries. They’re all desserts that impress guests, but don’t stress out the chefs.

Episode 125: OCEAN OPTIONS — BRANDADE DE MORUE AU GRATIN is a dish Jacques regularly made for his mother-in-law.  He demonstrates it in the step-by-step at the beginning of the show. He continues on with an elegant SEA BASS IN SHREDDED POTATO SKIN, deliciously delicate sea bass encased in crisply cooked shredded potatoes. A flavorful broth poaches dainty filets of fish in Jacques’ NAGE COURTE OF STRIPED BASS recipe – it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds.  A lustier dish of CODFISH  IN OLIVE OIL AND HORSERADISH SAUCE completes the show.

Episode 126: FOWL PLAY — Bold flavors make Jacques’ TURKEY CUTLETS IN ANCHOVY-LEMON SAUCE a winner. Shorey, Jacques’ granddaughter, is ready to dive into her serving.  Claudine assists her father as they make GRILLED CHICKEN WITH TARRAGON BUTTER.. Lastly, Jacques reveals a simple way to bone out a chicken and makes a BALLOTTINE OF CHICKEN WITH SPINACH FILLING.