Portrait of the Artist

Posted March 28, 2007

Everyone knows Jacques Pépin can cook. He’s perhaps the only man in America who could hold his own across the kitchen counter from the great Julia Child, with his technique and his charms. But did you know he could paint? Yes, really. Our April issue features artwork and recipes from his new cookbook, Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). A chatty memoir, recipe collection and sometime philosophical exposition on food and life, the book also features lovely large photographs of his artwork.

What I really love about his paintings, and his charming book, is how relaxed he is about the fact that they aren’t actually so great. “I know I am a better cook than painter,” he admits right up front. And it’s true: His puff pastries beat his still lifes, if we’re taking measure. But that’s beside the point. His oils have the same whimsy and charm as the man himself, jacked up with intense colors and loving renderings of peaches, a canal, two ladies on a hillside. Best of all, unlike more polished, perfect still lifes, they actually inspire a gal to paint. Thanks, Jacques.

The Dish
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