Since becoming a personal chef, I have been able to do many things that I never dreamed I’d be doing, and this week was a biggie! I was thrilled to be able to meet a personal hero of mine, Chef Jacques Pepin in Boston on Wednesday.
Boston University’s culinary program was founded by Chef Pepin (among others) and to celebrate the program’s 20th year he hosted “The Big Event” at BU. The event showcased talented chefs of the Boston area, from caterers to executive chefs at some of Boston’s best known restaurants, offering tastings of wonderful food and some wine tastings from local and regional wineries.
For this event, I took my mom on an adventure. Her birthday was this month and this was her gift. We made the 6 hour drive in pouring rain from Rochester to Boston, checked into our hotel in Brookline with just enough time to change our clothes and get to BU. The wind was really gusty and everyone arrived for the event with inside-out umbrellas and dripping wet, but nobody seemed to care. My mom and I met up with two of my personal chef friends, Laura Whalen and Martha Ulfelder for a spectacular evening!
The Event was held in a large gallery and the perimeter was lined with tables for tastings. We had some amazing raw oysters courtesy of Boston’s Legal Seafood which were absolutely the freshest oysters I have ever eaten. We even went back for seconds! The guys behind the table just kept shucking oysters for almost 3 hours and they had a line all night!
We also sampled a delicious tuna tartare with Serrano chili- Cucumber salsa and Wasabi Creme Fraiche in these precious tiny martini glasses.
The tartar was wonderful, but the glasses were a pain! (Several other tables featured the glasses too, but with hands full, and a tasting plate that was ours to keep for the evening, those glasses were just itching to slide off the plate and onto the floor!)
While making our way around the room we ran into Jack Bishop and Chris Kimball from America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated magazine.It was fun to meet these guys as I watch their show every weekend and love to use their recipes when I am cooking for my clients as I know they have been tested to the “endth degree.” I got an autographed copy of their current Holiday Entertaining magazine as a souvenier!
We continued around the room and found the booksellers from Jessica’s Biscuit with tables set up with a nice selection of cookbooks and food-lit books. I broke my “no new cookbook rule” (as if….) by purchasing a replacement of Risotto by Judith Barrett and Norma Wasserman (I had sold it in a garage sale when we moved a few years back and have kicked myself several times for doing so. It’s a great little primer on risotto and I am happy to have it back on my shelves!) I also purchased another Judith Barrett cookbook called Fagioli, The Bean Cuisine of Italy that has some great hot and cold dishes using legumes. You know, I didn’t even realize that it was by the same author until just now! How funny! I think Judith Barrett and I have the same taste in food, and I’d love to talk with her about that sometime 😉
We continued to eat and drink our way around the room (which now felt quite tropical from all the lights and bodies) and ran right into Mary Ann Esposito, another PBS favorite.. She’s such a nice lady!
And then…it happened. There he was walking right toward us! Jacques Pepin! My mother had brought her dog eared copy of La Technique, and I had my copy of Jacques and Julia, that are now both autographed by Chef Pepin, and he graciously posed for a picture with me. I didn’t get to talk with him long, but he was gracious and just as lovely as you’d expect. I was star struck to be sure! It was a great evening!