Jacques Pepin soon will begin production on what his longtime television network is calling his final cooking series, but the chef who has taught generations of Americans to cook says he's far from retiring.
KQED Public Television, the San Francisco-based station that has produced more than a dozen of Pepin's popular cooking series over the last quarter century, said in a recent release that it will begin recording Pepin's final series in October. Called "Jacques Pepin: Heart and Soul," the 26-episode series will offer a retrospective of sorts, drawing on the chef's 60 years in the kitchen, as well as past episodes he has recorded.
Locally, Jacques Pepin's "More Fast Food My Way" and "Essential Pepin" currently air on WCMU's digital channels.
Pepin, who turns 80 next year, said the intensity of the production schedule and the need to produce a cookbook with each series has become too much. But he stressed that he isn't retiring. "Julia never retired," he says, referring to his longtime friend and fellow television cooking icon Julia Child. He is simply cutting back.
"C'mon, I'm not too young," Pepin said during a telephone interview from his Madison, Connecticut, home. He said he isn't giving up television, but he is no longer interested in doing shows on the scale of his current project. "Maybe a shorter series, or technique, or something I don't have to write so much material with."
Pepin, along with Child, helped shape American culinary culture. He said he will continue to teach classes at Boston University and in New York. He also will continue his frequent guest appearances on cooking shows, such as Rachael Ray's series and ABC's "The Chew." He also is working on a book of his artwork.
Pepin said he was surprised by the stir word of his final series has caused. He cited the glut of cooking shows on television. "If I'm not there, believe me, people won't see the difference," he said.
His new series is scheduled to air in the fall of 2015. A companion cookbook, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, will be released in October 2015.
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