Master Chef Jacques Pépin, widely known for his PBS television series and best-selling cookbooks, has added new pieces to his creative art collection at jacquespepinart.com. He has received accolades for turning food into an art form, but most people don’t realize that Jacques has been painting for more than 50 years. In fact, the popularity of this lesser-known talent began with hand-illustrated menus that celebrate the joy of mealtime gatherings with friends and family.
Today, The Artistry of Jacques Pépin features limited edition prints as well as original artwork. His collection ranges from a warm country bistro style to eclectic impressionism and the light-hearted “farm to frame” collection of chickens and cocks.
Cooking is Jacques’ vocation; he paints strictly for fun when the mood strikes.
Memory Versus Forever
Unlike the countless dishes Pepin has cooked through the years, his paintings will be here forever. Jacques says: “Of course when you cook something, you eat it, it disappears and all you have left is memory. But, the painting stays there forever. And when I look at some of the paintings that I did 30 years ago, I know I could never do that again. I don’t feel the same way at all.”
For Pepin, both cooking and painting is an intuitive process. In addition, it’s inherent and automatic. “When a chef cooks at the stove, he or she doesn’t follow a recipe but the memory of a taste or a new idea. He acts intuitively, impulsively adding, correcting a nuance in a sauce or a shade in a seasoning with all the ingredients at his disposal while visualizing and aiming for that elusive “goût” or “savor,” he says.
It Feels Right
“Similarly, if an artist had to intellectually analyze a painting and decide that it needs a touch of blue indigo here and a trace of red vermillion there, or a soupçon of cadmium yellow in this corner, by the time the tubes of paint are open and squeezed onto the palette, the urge and the vision are gone.”
“The colors have to be at the ready on the palette for the painter, just as a set of ingredients must be in front of a chef as he or she cooks. The artist places that touch of color there because it feels right. It belongs there. It fits, just as a cook adds a dash of salt, pepper, or wine to a sauce to get the taste exactly right.”
Cooking and Painting in Harmony Together
“I don’t know whether my painting has helped my cuisine, or whether my cooking has helped my painting, and I don’t know if one borrows from the other. All I know is that, certainly for me, cooking and painting can live in harmony together. Both are different expressions of who I am and both enhance my life considerably.”