I'm not much of a cook. But I love watching people who can wield a spatula. And I don't love any cook as much as I do Jacques Pépin.
My daughter and her husband turned me on to Pépin and his line of how-to-cook DVDs, "Fast Food My Way" (many of which now can be accessed on YouTube). In addition to finding some great recipes, I enjoy watching Pépin himself. Besides being knowledgeable, he's gracious and demonstrates a wry sense of humor. Watching him is almost like standing alongside him in the kitchen.
Which is exactly what my friend and former colleague Leslie Kelly is going to get to do next week. Kelly, who is a staff writer at Allrecipes.com, is scheduled to meet up with Pépin at New York City's Culinary Center and actually cook "quick Coq au vin" during an April 5 live event.
But you don't have to wait until then to get started on a Pépin-inspired dish. Kelly wrote a piece for the website titled "8 Genius Tips from Jacques Pépin for Making Better Chicken." They include everything from positioning your chicken on its side (it “helps the legs, which take longer than the breast, cook faster, and also keeps the breast moist”) to using spices such as cayenne and black pepper ("which can easily be turned up to make a dish such as chicken curry a little extra fiery").
Check it out. And find a way to listen in when Kelly and Pépin cook his Coq au vin. You might learn something. I know I will.
Below: The great Jacques Pépin shares his culinary knowledge.