A Toast to the Spirit of Innovation

MET honors Jacques Pépin in his 80th year.

My favorite place to eat? That’s an easy one: my home. Because food is not the meal itself, it’s the family who is there…

On the evening of November 2, 2015, more than sixty acclaimed chefs, beverage purveyors, restaurateurs, and food educators—many of them associated with Metropolitan College’s Programs in Food & Wine—presented a dazzling array of small plates, cocktails, wines, coffees, and sweets in honor of two milestones: the 80th birthday of Jacques Pépin (Hon.’11) and the 50th anniversary of MET.

Six hundred guests, a quarter of them Boston University alumni, attended the epicurean celebration. During the toast, Dean Zlateva described how MET was created to help adults advance their education and expand their opportunities. “We pride ourselves on innovation in our curricula and programs,” she explained. “Chef Pépin is also an innovator, an emigrant from France who was in his thirties when he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University. As a lifelong learner, his experience exemplifies the power of education to inspire and transform.”

I met Julia in 1960, so I was friends with her for 45 years,” says Pépin. “So there are many, many memories and many, many bottles of wine associated with that, too!

Working with Programs in Food & Wine founding director Rebecca Alssid (now retired) and Alssid’s successor Dr. Potter Palmer (MET’09), Chef Pépin has been integral in drawing over ten thousand residents of greater Boston to the University by hosting informal seminars, demonstrations, discussions, and special cooking events. A part-time faculty member at BU since 1983, he collaborated with Ms. Alssid and close friend, television personality, and guru of French cooking Julia Child (Hon.’76) to cofound MET’s Certificate Program in Culinary Arts and master’s program in Gastronomy. “Most of the chefs here—in fact I’d say 99 percent of them—have taught in the program at some point,” Alssid shared in her comments to the gathering.

Pépin has written more than two dozen cookbooks—two of which, La Technique and La Méthode, are in the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame—and hosted 13 popular cooking series on public television, including Essential Pépin and Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home (with Julia Child), which won a James Beard Foundation award for best national cooking show and a Daytime Emmy® Award in 2001.

Who Was There?

Pepin Receives Inaugural Julia Child Award

Pépin Receives Inaugural Julia Child Award

On October 22, 2015, the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and Culinary Arts presented the first Julia Child Award to Jacques Pépin. Bestowed annually to an individual who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats, and drinks, the award includes a $50,000 grant to a food-related non-profit of the recipient’s choosing. Pépin split the proceeds equally between BU’s Programs in Food & Wine and another nonprofit, Wholesome Wave.  

Each guest received a signed copy of Pépin’s newest cookbook, Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen, which was published in early October to accompany the chef’s 80th birthday celebrations and the airing of his most recent PBS series, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul.

In 2004, Pépin was awarded France’s highest civilian honor, the Legion of Honor. The next year, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the James Beard Foundation. In 2011, Boston University awarded Pépin an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. He continues to teach at Boston University and is dean of special programs at the International Culinary Center in New York City.  


Jim Dodge Jacques
Pépin’s birthday cake
Polar Beverage
Bottled water
Trimark Etched glasses
Libbey Glass