Catch­ing up with our very first con­trib­u­tor, Jac­ques Pépin

Food & Wine - - CONTENTS -

WHAT MAKES A GOOD RECIPE? The good ones yield a de­li­cious re­sult, of course. The best ones tell a story worth re­peat­ing. In the pages that fol­low, we share the very best recipes that Food & Wine has pub­lished in the past 40 years. On their own, recipes like F&W con­trib­u­tor An­drew Zim­mern’s Bal­ti­more-Style Crab Cakes (p. 101) from 2012, loosely bound by may­on­naise, egg, and crushed saltines, of­fer up pure din­ner gold. Ju­lia Child’s 1994 recipe for Ham Steaks in Madeira Sauce (p. 62) will make you won­der why you ever stopped serv­ing ham steaks. In 2010, for­mer Test Kitchen Su­per­vi­sor Mar­cia Kiesel shared the very best choco­late cake you will ever taste (p. 93), and Paul Chung, who worked in the F&W mail room in 1995 and side­lined as a Jerk Chicken (p. 56) pit mas­ter, will make you an all­spice be­liever.

Taken to­gether, these cooks and their recipes, one from ev­ery year of the mag­a­zine, doc­u­ment four decades of culi­nary trends and tastemak­ers, be­gin­ning with a pre­pon­der­ance of Fran­cophilia in the first is­sues that re­flected the widely held no­tion back then that great cuisine came only from Europe—while “all we ate [in Amer­ica] was ham­burg­ers,” Ari­ane Bat­ter­berry, found­ing ex­ec­u­tive editor, told me.

The ori­gin story be­gins in 1978. Af­ter a seven-year search for in­vestors, the orig­i­nal group of five founders—Robert and Lindy Kenyon, Peter Jones, Bat­ter­berry and her hus­band, Michael— con­vinced sim­patico pub­lisher Hugh Hefner to print the pre­view is­sue of The In­ter­na­tional Re­view of Food & Wine (the name was short­ened in 1981) as a spe­cial 18-page insert in the March 1978 is­sue of Play­boy. The first con­trib­u­tors in­cluded Ge­orge Plimp­ton, James Beard, Gael Greene, and Jac­ques Pépin, “per­sonal chef to three French Pres­i­dents,” who shared a “tow­er­ing, golden-roofed, steam­ily fra­grant” souf­flé (p. 15).

Food & Wine her­alded a new era of din­ing in Amer­ica. For its first an­niver­sary in 1979, the mag­a­zine in­vited Alice Wa­ters of Chez Panisse in Berke­ley and Paul Prud­homme of Com­man­der’s Palace in New Or­leans to cook along­side no­table French and Ital­ian chefs at Tav­ern on the Green in New York City. “It was a rev­e­la­tion for the Amer­i­can food press,” Ari­ane said. “There was not yet such a thing as the great Amer­i­can chef. It sounds crazy, but that’s the way it was.” Or as Prud­homme told the Wash­ing­ton Post at the time: “There I was, sign­ing au­to­graphs for the kitchen staff. What more can a coun­try boy ask?”

I re­cently caught up with Pépin at the Food & Wine Clas­sic in As­pen. We talked about the se­cret to a happy life, which he dis­cov­ered dur­ing his ca­reer teach­ing oth­ers how to cook: “Make money out of some­thing you like to do.” Af­ter some 70 years in pro­fes­sional kitchens, nearly 40 of them con­tribut­ing to the pages of Food & Wine, he has long since dis­tanced him­self from the French chef la­bel. “I am sim­ply an Amer­i­can cook,” he says, al­ways hun­gry to learn more.

On be­half of all the great cooks like Pépin—both past and present—who have con­trib­uted to F&W, thank you, loyal read­ers, for giv­ing us a plat­form to tell these sto­ries and share these recipes for the past 40 years. Cheers to you.

An an­niver­sary toast with Jac­ques Pépin (left) at the Food & Wine Clas­sic in As­pen


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