What is Jacques Pépin’s Net Worth?
Jacques Pepin is a French chef, television personality, and author who has a net worth of $20 million. Beginning his career as the personal chef of French President Charles de Gaulle, he went on to work at numerous restaurants in Paris and throughout the United States, including the Howard Johnson’s chain. In the US, Pépin is famous for his various television cooking series, including his collaborative show with fellow chef Julia Child, and for his many cookbooks. From 2013 to 2014 he frequently appeared as a chef on the TV series Rachael Ray. For Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home Pepin won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2001 for Outstanding Service Show Host and was nominated for the same award in 2000. He was recognized as a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a Chevalier de L’Ordre du Merite Agricole from the French government. He has also won many awards including the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jacques Pépin was born on December 18, 1935 in Bourg-en-Bresse, France as the second of three sons of Jean-Victor and Jeannette. As a child in postwar France, he worked at his parents’ restaurant Le Pélican. When he was 13, he began an apprenticeship at Le Grand Hôtel de l’Europe, and at 16 trained under Lucien Diat at the Plaza Athénée in Paris.
While he was in the military from 1956 to 1958, Pépin became known for his culinary aptitude. As a result, he was ordered to work in the Office of the Treasury. This led to his appointments as the personal chef of three different French presidents, including Charles de Gaulle. In 1959, Pépin moved to the United States to work at Le Pavillon in New York City. One of the restaurant’s regular customers was businessman Howard Johnson, who hired Pépin to help develop food lines for his chain of eponymous restaurants. Pépin took this job in lieu of becoming the White House chef for John F. Kennedy. He ultimately served as the director of research and development at Howard Johnson’s for ten years. During this time, Pépin opened a specialty soup restaurant and lunch counter in Manhattan called La Potagerie.
In New York, Pépin decided to complete his education, and enrolled at Columbia University. He graduated with his BA in general studies in 1970, and went on to earn his MA in French literature in 1972. Although Pépin subsequently entered a doctoral program at Columbia, his proposed thesis on French cuisine in literature was rejected for being “too frivolous.”
Rise to Fame
Pépin started achieving greater fame in the mid-70s when he ventured into writing, culinary education, and television careers. He made appearances on such game shows as “What’s My Line?” and “To Tell the Truth,” and offered classes at cooking schools and shops across the United States. In 1976, Pépin released his first cookbook, “La Technique,” which was followed by “La Methode” in 1979. A few years after that, he became a dean at the newly established New York City culinary school the French Culinary Institute. The same year he began in that position, Pépin launched his first television series on Jacksonville, Florida’s local PBS station. He continued to publish successful cookbooks, and also became a columnist for the New York Times and a guest author for several food magazines.
Pépin increased his profile on television in the 90s. Early in the decade, he began his series “Today’s Gourmet,” which was filmed in San Francisco, California. In 1994 and 1996, he and his chef friend Julia Child starred in 90-minute PBS specials filmed before live audiences in Boston, Massachusetts. Also in 1996, Pépin launched three television series featuring his adult daughter Claudine; the duo won James Beard Foundation Awards for their work. Perhaps Pépin’s best known series was “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home,” which began in 1999 as another collaboration with Julia Child. The series won both a James Beard Foundation Award and a Daytime Emmy Award.
Pépin has starred in a number of other cooking series over the years, including “The Complete Pépin,” “Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way,” and “Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul.” He also appeared as a guest judge in season five of the reality competition series “Top Chef.” In 2017, Pépin was the subject of the PBS documentary “Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft.”
Pépin has continued to cook, write, educate, and make television appearances in his later years. He has taught on various cruise ships and has continued his teaching at both the International Culinary Center and Boston University. Additionally, Pépin has made forays into drawing and painting. He has been awarded with a number of honorary doctorates, including from Boston University and his alma mater Columbia University.
In 1966, Pépin married Gloria Augier, with whom he had his daughter Claudine. Augier passed away in 2020. Pépin and his daughter have appeared together frequently on cooking shows, and co-founded the non-profit Jacques Pépin Foundation along with Claudine’s husband Rollie Wesen. The Foundation works to support organizations that provide culinary training to underserved populations, and offers grants, curricular materials, equipment, and more to culinary programs throughout the US.
In 1974, Pépin weathered severe injuries after he crashed his car into a ravine while trying to avoid hitting a deer. Although he recovered, his left shoulder was left with restricted mobility. Pépin credits the accident with catalyzing his decision to become an educator and author.