Chef Jacques Pepin — or, as Julia Child called him, "the best chef in America" — has spent more than six decades in the kitchen savoring food. Even now at 75, he still swears that "the greatest thing of all is bread and butter." "If you have extraordinary bread and extraordinary butter, it's hard to beat bread and butter," Pepin tells NPR's Renee Montagne.
During World War II, food was scarce. The family didn't have much to eat at their home near Lyon, in Bourg-en-Bresse. Ever resourceful, Pepin's mother sent the young boy and his brother to live on a farm during the summers. There, he would have milk and whatever produce grew on the farm.
That farm is where Pepin first came so close to cows — and what he remembers most was their warm milk. "It was really lukewarm and very creamy and delicious. That was probably one of my first memories of food," he says.
Back at home, his mother worked hard to conjure up meals out of practically nothing. Even today, Pepin says his mother "is very miserly in the kitchen. She can cook anything."
Listen to the interview and read excerpts from Pepin's autobiography: The Apprentice: My Life In The Kitchen here.