Chef Jacques Pépin celebrates the humble chicken in collection of paintings and stories

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Jacques Pépin shares stories including his teenage years during the war, when a group of friends caught a chicken and cooked it in clay found along the river. Photo by Tom Hopkins.

During his 54 years of marriage, chef Jacques Pépin accumulated a dozen books documenting the details of having guests over for dinner. Along with the menu, notes about the music played and the wine enjoyed were also cited. Adjacent to those remembrances, Pépin began illustrating the menus. In “Jacques Pépin Art of the Chicken: A Master Chef’s Paintings, Stories, and Recipes of the Humble Bird,” he shares narrative recipes instead of step-by-step instruction. The octogenarian has been painting for over fifty years. 

Scouring through a dozen books of home menus spanning over half a century, Chef Pépin noticed part of the documentation included his drawings. Painting by Jacques Pépin.

Pépin says that about a decade ago, he brought his two loves together and began incorporating food into his chicken paintings including apples, cherries, pears, and onions. Painting by Jacques Pépin.

Pépin taught a class called “The Ultimate Meal” that consisted of guidance in making a roasted chicken, a boiled potato, and a salad. Painting by Jacques Pépin.

“Jacques Pépin Art of Chicken” showcases the chef’s paintings spanning over fifty years. Photo courtesy of Harvest.