In this captivating memoir, the man whom Julia Child has called "the best chef in America" tells the story of his rise from a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old World kitchen to an Emmy Award<en>winning superstar who taught millions of Americans how to cook and shaped the nation's tastes in the bargain.
We see young Jacques as a homesick six-year-old boy in war-ravaged France, working on a farm in exchange for food, dodging bombs, and bearing witness as German soldiers capture his father, a fighter in the Resistance. Soon Jacques is caught up in the hurly-burly action of his mother's café, where he proves a natural. He endures a literal trial by fire and works his way up the ladder in the feudal system of France's most famous restaurant, finally becoming Charles de Gaulle's personal chef, watching the world being refashioned from the other side of the kitchen door.
When he comes to America, Jacques immediately falls in with a small group of as-yet-unknown food lovers, including Craig Claiborne, James Beard, and Julia Child, whose adventures redefine American food. Through it all, Jacques proves himself to be a master of the American art of reinvention: earning a graduate degree from Columbia University, turning down a job as John F. Kennedy's chef to work at Howard Johnson's, and, after a near-fatal car accident, switching careers once again to become a charismatic leader in the revolution that changed the way Americans approached food. Included as well are approximately forty all-time favorite recipes created during the course of a career spanning nearly half a century, from his mother's utterly simple cheese soufflé to his wife's pork ribs and red beans.
The Apprentice is the poignant and sometimes funny tale of a boy's coming of age. Beyond that, it is the story of America's culinary awakening and the transformation of food from an afterthought to a national preoccupation.
In this fast-moving and often touching memoir, P pin recounts his journey from the kitchen of his mother's humble restaurant in rural France after World War II to his current position as author of 21 cookbooks, star of 13 PBS cooking shows and dean of special programs at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. Along the way he describes everything from the tough French apprenticeship system that saw him dropping out of school at 13 to work in Lyon to the beginnings of the Howard Johnson's chain. P pin accepted a job in the Howard Johnson's test kitchen over a stint at the White House cooking for John F. Kennedy , but shows no signs of regret. In fact, if there's a flaw here, it's that P pin's eternally upbeat attitude is sometimes a little hard to buy although he does seem to have been born under a lucky star. P pin came to the U.S. just when a culinary culture was building and fell into friendships with Craig Claiborne, then food editor of the New York Times, and Julia Child. Even a bad car accident when he was 39 turned out to be a godsend, as it got him out of the restaurant kitchen and into the teaching profession. P pin mines a lot of humor from the differences between French and American attitudes toward food, as when he recounts how he and a French friend once stopped by a farmsomewhere in the U.S. with a sign reading "Ducks for Sale" and wrung the neck of the duck they'd just bought in front of the horrified proprietress. Each chapter concludes with one or two recipes, many of them surprisingly earthy, such as Oatmeal Breakfast Soup with leeks and bacon.