June 30, 2015 / 8:42 PM / 5 years ago

Jacques Pépin preps book, TV series ahead of 80th birthday

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Renowned celebrity chef Jacques Pépin may be approaching his 80th birthday, but the award-winning cook is still going strong.

A Croquembouche is presented at chef Jacques Pepin's 80th Birthday celebration at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, Colorado June 19, 2015 in this handout picture provided by FOOD & WINE magazine. REUTERS/Galdones Photography/Courtesy of FOOD & WINE magazine/Handout via Reuters

Pépin’s second book, “La Technique,” was published nearly four decades ago and is considered a classic tome on French cooking. His upcoming book and television series, “Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul in the Kitchen,” will debut in October.

The French-born, Connecticut-based chef, who has recovered after suffering a minor stroke in March, is the author of more than 20 cookbooks and has hosted many TV cooking shows. He won an Emmy Award for a TV cooking series he did with Julia Child.

Pépin spoke to Reuters about his long career, his inspirations and how he will celebrate his milestone birthday.

Q: What still inspires you in the kitchen?

A: The market inspires me. Also the garden, certainly right now with all the herbs. Even traveling. My imagination, too.

Q: How has living in America helped transform you as a chef?

A: I am certainly more open. I am more tolerant. I went back to school. I went back to cooking but on another level.

Q: What excites you about the American culinary scene right now?

A: People are going to their roots more, whether it’s New Orleans or New England. They are going back to where they were born and opening up restaurants with the type of food they had as children. Rather than the eccentricities and exaggerations of a few years ago for the sake of decoration, for the sake of making something different. Who cares?

Q: What advice you do give to a chef?

A: I tell a young chef: “When you are finished with culinary school or an apprenticeship, you have to try to work at the best possible places to expand your knowledge. If you go work for Daniel Boulud or Thomas Keller, you want to see through the eyes of those chefs regardless of whether it coincides with your sense of taste and ascetics. It really doesn’t matter. You also need discipline and commitment.”

Q: What is the highlight of your culinary career so far?

A: Maybe my next book? I always look to the future. I’ve always been blessed and very lucky with the things I’ve done.

Q: How will you celebrate your 80th birthday?

A: I’ll probably be home, sharing a can of caviar with my wife.

Editing by Patricia Reaney and Lisa Von Ahn

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