6 Best Jacques Pepin Recipes to Celebrate His 86th Birthday

We'll take any opportunity to express our admiration for the legendary French chef.

December 17, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

I think most people would agree if they could pick one person’s brain about cooking and baking, it would be Jacques Pepin. The French-born chef has hosted public television shows and published books (so many books). He was best friends with Julia Child, a contributor to multiple food publications, and the recipient of a number of prestigious culinary awards. He’s been celebrated over and over again and no one ever gets sick of him.

Today, we’re celebrating him once more in honor of his 86th birthday, which falls on December 18th, 2021. The most appropriate way to celebrate would be to stick a candle in a cheese soufflé, but we’ve also rounded up six of Jacques Pépin’s all-time best recipes so that you can eat chic.

1. Maman's Cheese Soufflé From Jacques Pépin

The idea of making a soufflé sounds intimidating, right? Believe me, I know. I bought a soufflé dish three years ago and have yet to use it. But this recipe might just be the thing that gets me to try it. After all, I have to believe that Jacques Pépin’s recipe is THE definitive recipe.

2. Jacques Pépin's Fromage Fort

Unfortunately, this is not a recipe for a cheese house. I would love to live in a cheese house and I bet you would too. However, it is a recipe for the easiest-ever cheese dip that uses up all of your leftover bits and pieces of cheese (perfect for throwing together after your holiday party for your next holiday party).

3. Jacques Pépin's Shrimp Gratin

I can’t imagine a better recipe designed for holiday entertaining than shrimp topped with buttery breadcrumbs and served in individual gratins.

4. Jacques Pépin's Criques (Crispy Potato Pancakes)

No box grater is needed for these potato pancakes! Instead, Jacques (can I call him Jacques?) mixes diced potatoes, onions, garlic, eggs, and potato starch in a food processor, then forms them into pancakes and shallow fries them until golden brown and crispy as can be.

5. Jacques Pépin's Cherry Compote

I’m canceling my cable subscription and every streaming service I subscribe to. All I want to watch for the rest of forever and Jacques Pépin prepare this summer cherry compote from his home kitchen.

6. Jacques Pépin's Crunchy Skillet Chicken Thighs With Zucchini

“In this recipe, chicken thighs are cooked skin side down, covered, in a skillet for about 30 minutes. They don’t need to be turned over because covering the pan creates steam that cooks the chicken through,” explains the birthday boy.

What is your favorite piece of cooking wisdom from Jacques Pepin? Let us know in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Nicolette Smith
    Nicolette Smith
  • Sue D
    Sue D
  • Carolyn
  • Key
  • LadyR
Former Food52 Staff Editor


Nicolette S. January 3, 2022
His Friday night clean-out refrigerator soup. Simple and basic and gets rid of everything in the fridge on Friday night so you're ready for market Saturday. It's brilliant!
judy January 29, 2022
My dad did this most Saturday mornings. Not sure where he learned it from, but clean out the fridge soup or salad was always a part of Saturday night dinner!

Sue D. January 2, 2022
To Lady R. I have La Technique copyright 1976. I would be glad to send it to you. It’s used but in very good condition. I just saw your comments today and checked my collection.
LadyR January 3, 2022
How can we connect, Sue? Please save it for me. I'm okay with using my email address here: This truly is a miracle. LadyR at CanadianContessa dot com.
My husband is in stage 4 lung cancer and I am praying God will let him live. Your msg helped my stress. Be blessed. LadyR.
Carolyn January 2, 2022
Some 20 + years later my favourite recipe is where he and Julia child make chicken stock from a whole chicken and create a pot pie + chicken veg soup from the same stock pot. Pot pie is now part of my stock making ritual!
Key January 2, 2022
The best thing I learned from Jacques Pepin was how to crack an egg - rap it on a counter. Using the side of a bowl can add bits of eggshell and bacteria into whatever you are cooking.
LadyR January 2, 2022
To avoid drippings from the cracked eggshells liquid getting on the counter, because they carry the same salmonella bacteria as raw chicken, lay a double strip of absorbent papar towel on the counter near the dish you will use the cracked egg in.

Simply cover the collected eggshells, wrap and toss into trash or save, dry, to crush and add to your garden. Careful because the crushed shells added to your garden soil will change its ph-factor and in particular will change the colour of your blooms dramatically.
judy January 29, 2022
Well, I do n't think either method really prevents bringing bacteria to the party. The effort would best require that the egg be washed before cracking in anti-bacterial soap. As long as one is touching the egg, there is the opportunity for introducing bacteria. On the other hand, if the food is being cooked, that will kill bacteria, then just wash items well to avoid spreading to other items. Cracking egg on counter just leaves bacteria there to be dragged into something else...if one wants to get nit-picky about egg bacteria in food and on surfaces.. Me I just crack on the edge of the bowl. If I get a shell fragment in, I rescue it with the eggshell half. I rarely eat raw eggs, so for me this is not really an issue.
LadyR December 20, 2021
Thanks to all. I've left messages. I will advise if successful.
Could anyone copy and paste to me his Genoise recipe? Ever so grateful. I had no reason to write it down because I had my book. I hsve others of his books but the recipe doesn't seem to be in any of them.
I loved making the mushroom bunnies and the lemon baskets that I served often starting in the mid 1970s. Thanks if doable. LadyR
Janos December 19, 2021
Jacques' birthday is nearly a family holiday at our house. Both my daughter and I love him, and he's taught us so much. I grew up watching his show with Julia Child, but it's only in recent years, when I was much older, that I rediscovered his fantastic videos and books, thanks to a mention from Anthony Bourdain.

He's a month younger than my father and I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything bad about the man. He's like everyone's favorite Grandpa or the Dad they wish they had!

For the lady who's having trouble finding the book that was lost, you can get a copy of his book 'New Complete Techniques'. In it are both La Methode and La Technique.

I bought two copies of this recently. One for myself and one as a gift for a good friend of mine who loves cooking as much as I do. It's on sale for $25.99 on Amazon right now, so snap it up before it goes back up in price to the $42 I paid for both copies! :D

"Based on Pépin’s 1978 and 1979 archetypal works La Méthode and La Technique,Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques has become a cookbook classic in its own right, selling more than 140,000 copies. Comprehensive and authoritative, New Complete Techniques includes more than 600 techniques and methods and 160 recipes that are demonstrated by Pépin in thousand of step-by-step photographs. It is a culinary course on every aspect of classic cooking, from the basics (how to sharpen a knit or peel an onion) and the practical (how to properly bone a chicken (to the whimsical (how to make decorative swans and flowers out of fruits and vegetables) and the complex (how to use an old refrigerator as a smoker for trout)."

All the best.
T L. December 19, 2021
Save and use the juice from canned beans and whole kernel corn. Rinse out the cans of canned tomatoes to get the last little bit. Limp celery and wilted spinach are fine for cooking. Taste a tiny bit of every jalapeno--sometimes they're quite mild, other times they're muy picante. He makes tasty food look so quick and easy and inexpensive. I can do this!
Homecook December 19, 2021
Jacque Pepin is part of my family’s food culture. Two sisters, my
Mother and I worked for many years at the Kobos Company in Portland, OR. I was given a copy of La Technique, purchased there, when I was 20.
My Mother worked there when Chef Pepin visited the store; they even discussed opening a cooking school in Portland! She regrets not taking him up on it.
My favorite recipe is from his autobiography (he gave my mother a signed copy). She gave it to me and I’ve made the roast chicken many times. It is the most moist, flavorful and delicious chicken with crispy skin you’ll ever have. The better the bird the better the feast although it works well on our local mass produced birds and elevates them.
Eve T. December 19, 2021
How cool is that! Sounds like a wonderful memory & I wish you had opened up a school because I would have enrolled more than likely living 2 hours north of Portland :) Bon appétit
Limely December 20, 2021
My parents practically lived at Kobos Portland when I was a little squirt! 😆 I didn't realize Mr. Pepin had visited there, how insanely cool. My Dad would have been ecstatic if he had known. What a fun experience for your family!
LadyR December 17, 2021
Is there a way to contact Jacques with a personal msg. When my son was sixteen years old he had a part time after school job and he saved his money to buy for my birthday Jacques' "La Technique" cookbook about 12 x 14" and I treasured it so much all the years it was like brand new, now out of print although there is a new version. My house was broken into and among many other things my sons's special gift was stolen. I so dearly would love to have it back. Wondering if Jacques might have an extra copy. When I received my beautiful gift that my son worked so hard to give me I was moved to tears. Please advise by email. In a few months I will be 80 years old. Appreciated if doable. Thank you.
Casey H. December 17, 2021
There's a Jacques Pepin Foundation page on Instagram; maybe try sending a message to them?
LadyR December 17, 2021
Thank you, Casey. Much appreciated. Sadly I don't do Instagram. Age 80. Recovering from heart attack so never learned.
Eve T. December 18, 2021
Hello LadyR,
I doubt the Chef would respond to your request unfortunately as he gets tons of requests. However, I looked around on the web & found best price besides eBay at this used bookstore. The book is described as in very good shape, a used copy of La Technique from
There’s a phone number you can call at: 615-200-6227 .
It’s on sale for 77.95 ($ 82 less than what they were charging)
Anyway hope that helps! I’m a huge Pepin fan as well :)
Bonne chance Madame!

LadyR December 19, 2021
Thank you so very much. My heart is so broken. I take such good care of my things. How can people be so cruel. So for my upcoming 80th birthday I am trying hard to replace the gift my then 16 year old son bought for me.
I have left a message at the phone number you so kindly provided.
Be blessed. I will advise if anything comes of it.
LadyR - CanadianContessa gourmet columnist since the mid 1970s.
Eve T. December 19, 2021
I’m so sorry about losing your beloved Pepin cookbook.
I’m afraid I may have given your faulty info about American bookstore . It came up as viable in a book search but today I can’t find it & believe it’s closed. I don’t know how apt you are in using the internet but I looked under Powell books & they indicated available copies of La Technique.

Here’s a screenshot I took:

Search Results: La Technique By Jacques Pepin
You searched for:
Title: La Technique
Author: jacques pepin
Filter by Condition
New (1)
Fine or new (2)
Very good or better (7)
Filter by Attribute
Hardcover (10)
Sellers with Multiple Copies
No image available
La Technique
By Pepin, Jacques
First Edition Thus
Quantity Available
Second Story Books
Rockville, Maryland
Seller rating: This seller has earned a 4 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Item Price
$5.25 shipping to USA
The telephone number of SecondStory books is 301-770-0477 ! I hope it works :)
Merry Christmas
LadyR January 3, 2022
Thank you again, Eve T. I called Second Story books and offered to pay the special shipping. They do not take calls. You can only leave a msg at various departments, but no way to understand what ext. I chose one ext and left a msg. Hoping someone will call back. The poster called Sue D reneged on her generous offer and then wrote nasty personal post here on FOOD52. I offer my personal apology to Food52 readers. I have no idea who she is but thought she was a Christmas angel sent to help my stress. Every word I write is true; no reason to lie ever, and sadly I shared private information in reply to her email wherein I offered to pay bank email money etransfer to her to cover safe FedEx to be sure it got here rather than using UPS because it is not always safe crossing the border. Our postal service is also dreadful.
Once again thank you sincerely.
Lady R
AK December 17, 2021