The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts (the Foundation) announced today from Julia’s kitchen in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (the Museum) that the Jury for the Julia Child Award selected renowned chef, cookbook author and culinary personality Jacques Pépin as the first recipient. 

Chef Carla Hall of ABC’s The Chew revealed Mr. Pépin’s selection during a special event hosted by the Museum.  The annual Award recognizes an individual who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats and drinks.  The Foundation will also make $50,000 in grants to two food-related non-profits selected by Mr. Pépin.

The Foundation will present the Award to Mr. Pépin in association with the National Museum of American History at a Gala to be held in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2015.  The Gala with the theme of “Innovation on your Plate” supports the Museum’s American Food History Project and kicks-off its inaugural Smithsonian Food History Weekend, October 23-25, 2015.

French Chef Daniel Boulud, chef-owner of many award-winning restaurants around the world including Michelin-starred DANIEL in New York City, will present the Award to Mr. Pépin during the Gala.  Chef Boulud, a multiple James Beard Award winner, will pay tribute to both Julia Child and Jacques Pepin’s spirit of innovation with the menu he will develop for the evening. The event will feature prominent culinary figures who will speak about Julia Child’s influence.

Mr. Pépin was chosen from a confidential shortlist of accomplished candidates by a five-person jury led by Jim Dodge, Director of Specialty Culinary Programs for Bon Appetit Management Company.  The jury, appointed by the Trustees of the Foundation, also includes Darra Goldstein, the Wilcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian at Williams College; Russ Parsons, food columnist and former Food Editor at the Los Angeles Times; Nancy Silverton, co-owner of Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza, Mozza2Go, and Chi Spacca in California and Singapore; and, Jasper White, owner/executive chef of Jasper White’s Summer Shack restaurants in Massachusetts and Connecticut.  The Award selection process was overseen by Award Director for the Julia Child Award, Tanya Wenman Steel, former editor-in-chief of Epicurious and Gourmet Live, and CEO of Cooking Up Big Dreams.

“The Trustees are delighted by the Jury’s selection of Jacques Pépin as the inaugural recipient,” said Eric W. Spivey, Chairman of the Foundation.  “Jacques’ significant contributions to the American food world, through his books, public appearances, award-winning television programs and his support of culinary education like the Gastronomy program at Boston University, which he helped found with Julia, embody the significant contributions in gastronomy and the culinary arts which this Award was created to showcase.”

“Julia and Jacques brought the French zest for food and wine to the American table, creating an indelible mark on our nation’s culinary history,” said John Gray, director of the National Museum of American History. “These two great friends prepared so many meals together for their television audiences in Julia Child’s home kitchen on display at the museum and so I offer my congratulations to the formidable Jacques Pépin.”

The Foundation also unveiled the design for the new Julia Child Award, which will be presented to Mr. Pépin at the October 22nd Gala.  It was designed by Ashley Anastasia Howell of Avid Creative in Toronto.  Avid Creative was selected by the Foundation after reviewing responses from around the world to its Award Design competition.

For more information about the Gala and to purchase tickets, please visit https://americanhistory.si.edu/events/food-history-weekend/gala.

Additional information about the Julia Child Award, the Award criteria and selection process, can be found on juliachildaward.com.

Jacques Pépin

Renowned Chef Jacques Pépin has written more than two dozen cookbooks and hosted more than 13 popular public television cooking series. His collaboration with Julia Child in the PBS TV series, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, won an Emmy Award and a James Beard Foundation award in 2001.  Pépin recently completed filming his 14th cooking series for PBS, Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul, for KQED in San Francisco, which airs in the fall of 2015, in time for Pépin’s 80th birthday. A companion cookbook, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers, will be released in early October, 2015.

Born in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, near Lyon, Pépin’s love for cooking developed when, as a child, he helped in his parents’ restaurant, Le Pélican. At 13, he began an apprenticeship at the Grand Hôtel de L’Europe and subsequently worked in Paris, ultimately serving as personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle.  After moving to the United States in 1959, Pépin first worked at Le Pavillon, a storied French restaurant in New York City. From 1960 to 1970, he was director of research and new development for Howard Johnson’s and developed recipes for the restaurant chain. At the same time, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Columbia University.

A former columnist for The New York Times, his articles have appeared in countless food magazines, notably Food & Wine. He is the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from five American universities and was awarded France’s highest civilian honor, Le Legion d’Honneur, in 2004, as well as the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in 1997 and the Mérite Agricole in 1992. For the past 30 years, he has taught in the Culinary Arts Program at Boston University and served as dean of special programs at the International Culinary Center in New York City since 1989.

An active supporter of many non-profit organizations, Pépin serves on the board and is a spokesperson for Spoons Across America, an educational program which teaches children and families about healthy eating; and, he participates annually in events for Share our Strength and Taste of the Nation, which are dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America.  Also a gifted painter, Pépin has expanded his focus on special menus, landscapes and floral subject matter to explore abstract expressionism.

The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts

The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts was created by Julia in 1995 as a grant giving private foundation. Through its support of other non-profit organizations whose work advances matters Julia valued, the foundation honors her lifelong love of learning, her far-reaching impact as a teacher and mentor, and her passion for gastronomy and the culinary arts.


Food History at the National Museum of American History

As the home of Julia Child’s kitchen, and in her spirit, the National Museum of American History is committed to examining the impact of food, drink and agriculture on American History. Through research, collecting and strategic partnerships, the Museum’s American Food History Project creates programs, exhibitions and events to engage the public in an exploration of American food history and understand the role they play in shaping the future of food in America. On July 1, 2015, the Museum opened the Wallace H. Coulter Demonstration Plaza with a fully equipped demonstration kitchen, where live programs are presented for all audiences.  As Julia Child influenced culinary history and foodways in America, the Museum uses its exciting, new menu of programs and demonstrations to connect audiences to their past and their future through food. For more information visit: americanhistory.si.edu/topics/food



Media only:

Valeska Hilbig     
Megan Salocks