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The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen | [Jacques Pepin]

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen

In this captivating memoir, the man whom Julia Child has called "the best chef in America" tells the story of his rise from a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old World kitchen to an Emmy Award-winning superstar who taught millions of Americans how to cook and shaped the nation's tastes in the bargain.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why You Should Download This Audiobook: Of all the excellent memoirs from master chefs, from Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential to Bill Buford's Heat, this one scored high marks from critics and customers alike, but remains a sleeper hit. We're excited to recommend Jacques Pepin's account of his difficult childhood during World War II and his subsequent rise to multimedia stardom. It's truly a riveting history of one remarkable, insightful, and corageous man. We're confident you'll agree.

Publisher's Summary

In this captivating memoir, the man whom Julia Child has called "the best chef in America" tells the story of his rise from a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old World kitchen to an Emmy Award-winning superstar who taught millions of Americans how to cook and shaped the nation's tastes in the bargain.

As a homesick 6-year-old boy in war-ravaged France, Jacques works on a farm in exchange for food, dodging bombs, and bearing witness as German soldiers capture his father, a fighter in the Resistance. Soon Jacques is caught up in the hurly-burly action of his mother's cafe, where he proves a natural. He endures a literal trial by fire and works his way up the ladder in France's most famous restaurant, finally becoming Charles de Gaulle's personal chef. When he comes to America, he falls in with a small group of as-yet-unknown food lovers, including Craig Claiborne, James Beard, and Julia Child. The master of the American art of reinvention, Jacques goes on to earn a graduate degree from Columbia University, turn down a job as John F. Kennedy's chef to work at Howard Johnson's, and, after a near-fatal car accident, switch careers to become a charismatic leader in the revolution that changed the way Americans approached food.

The Apprentice is the poignant and sometimes funny tale of a boy's coming of age. It is also the story of America's culinary awakening and the transformation of food from an afterthought to a national preoccupation.

©2003 Jacques Pepin; (P)2003 Houghton Mifflin Company

What the Critics Say

"Fast-moving and often touching....[A] charming memoir." (Publishers Weekly)
"As one of the world's most celebrated chefs, Jacques Pepin has much to share when it comes to great food. However, this memoir is every bit as delicious as one of his finest recipes. Free of any pretension, complaint, or histrionics, Pepin's story recalls difficult times in war-torn France, fighting invaders and poverty with equal determination. Michel Chevalier offers a perfect voice for Pepin's anecdotes and memories, using his musical French accent to add just the right flavor. Any reader who loves food and a good story will enjoy listening to this memoir." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (291 )
5 star
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4.3 (124 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Linda Zimmerman Los Angeles, CA USA 02-06-05
    Linda Zimmerman Los Angeles, CA USA 02-06-05

    Expert Griller

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RECIPES???"

    A lovely food memoir, well written and well read, but really not an unabridged reading. Whoever decided to omit the recipes at the end of each chapter and their description about how they pertain to the story was a fool and is truely cheating the listener of the whole book. This book will definitely make you hanker for a taste of classical French cooking. Anyone who reads about food is surely to be interested in the recipes. I would not have know about the recipes if I didn't own the book.

    22 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    snowy plover Walnut Creek, CA 12-04-04
    snowy plover Walnut Creek, CA 12-04-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delightful and Interesting"

    Jacque Pepin's story has many facets which he relates in an honest and unpretentious way. I came away with a great respect for the man and an enhanced view of cooking, especially in the selection of ingredients. One hears about choosing fresh and seasonal items, but Pepin tells what that means in very specific ways. Be advised that this book can make you very hungry.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison New Hope, PA, USA 02-22-05
    Alison New Hope, PA, USA 02-22-05
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    "Fascinating..."

    I got interested in chef's memoirs after listenign to Anthony Bourdain's _Kitchen Confidential_. Jacques Pepin's life isn't as racy as Bourdain's, but it's in some ways much more intersting. Even though I've seen him on public television, I never knew about the twists and turns his career took in getting him to that point. The story is told with good humor and an abiding love for family and food. In the process you learn a lot about the history of cuisine in America and Pepin's influence of what you eat every day even now.

    The book is read very well, not by Pepin himself but by someone with an accent very much like his. It was great fun to hear it.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Hamden, CT, United States 04-29-12
    Jennifer Hamden, CT, United States 04-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    "DELIGHTFUL!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Apprentice to be better than the print version?

    We read The Apprentice for my book club... I got a great reading from Michel Chevalier (including the accent,) but missed out on the recipes in between chapters.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jacques Pepin


    Any additional comments?

    I found this memior very moving and inspirational. Jacques' life is an incredible one, beautifully written. His stories conjure up wonderful smells and tastes. The day after finishing this book, I purchased Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques - which is now a staple in my kitchen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon Chicago, IL, United States 06-07-07
    Shannon Chicago, IL, United States 06-07-07 Member Since 2005
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    "An interesting view of a strange (to me) world"

    I found this book enjoyable for its descriptions of food, France during the war, the life an apprentice chef, life as a cook in New York in the early 60s, life as Howard Johnson's corporate cuisine designer (who knew that Howard Johnson's used to have pretty good food?) and of life as a name-brand chef. It is not a masterwork; there are no great insights into either the world or the author's character (he mentions that a car accident left him a drug addict, but never mentions the problem again) but it is a good listen. Foodies will probably delight in his enthusiastic and thorough description of many of the fine meals he's made, and of the chefs he's known and loved (and hated.)

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    chris FREDERICKSBURG, VA, United States 02-07-13
    chris FREDERICKSBURG, VA, United States 02-07-13
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    "Illustrating look at French life"
    What did you love best about The Apprentice?

    The author's stories about his mother


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jaque Pepin; He was the subject of the book


    What about Michel Chevalier’s performance did you like?

    Inflections and correct pornunciation of French terms


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Laugh many times


    Any additional comments?

    Felt as if I was watching the activity. Well written.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Stauffer Huntington Beach CA 02-04-13
    R. Stauffer Huntington Beach CA 02-04-13 Member Since 2011

    cooking mama

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    "very intertaining story"
    Where does The Apprentice rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I really liked this book. I have read many books of the same ganre and this one is rigth up there at the top.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jacques of course.


    What three words best describe Michel Chevalier’s performance?

    A little monotone


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    If food interestes you and the process of becoming a great chef intreges you then listen to this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Seattle, WA, USA 03-01-06
    Mary Seattle, WA, USA 03-01-06
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    "Thoroughly Entertaining!"

    With his meager roots in the French countryside to his quick wit and vivid descriptions of cuisine, it's a Foodie's guide to the evolution of food in America. History, culture, drama, comedy, and of course food, this book has something for everyone.
    Wonderfully narrated (I'm a sucker for a French accent) this book was a Godsend on a dreary day on vacation.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline Morgan Hill, CA, USA 09-12-05
    Caroline Morgan Hill, CA, USA 09-12-05
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    "Wonderful!"

    I adored this book from start to finish. I have listened to Anthony Bourdain (loved him) and Ruth Reichl (loved her). Jacques was very good in talking about his early and extraordinary French culinary training as a boy continuing on into his adulthood.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Tampa, FL, USA 05-19-05
    Anne Tampa, FL, USA 05-19-05
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    "Wonderfully entertaining!"

    I have always liked Jacques Pepin. I liked the way he interacted with Julia Child on the PBS series. He is just a likeable fellow! When I saw this book, I couldn't wait to learn more about him. The reader's French accent made it feel like Jacques was telling me about his life. The story endeared me even more to Chef Pepin. I hope you like it as much as I did! by Anne (not Robert)

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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