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Cooks for Eight

The BIG event this past weekend was the taping of … Jacques Pépin Cooks for Eight.

Barbara Fenzl brought legendary chef, author, and educator Jacques Pépin to Arizona to tape a very special cooking show that will first air on June 4 at 7:00 pm and will serve as the main pledge-drive program for our local PBS station, KAET – Channel 8.

The title has a double meaning; Jacques and Barbara not only cooked together for channel Eight, in addition, but the menu was also set like a meal for Eight people.

But the taping of the show wasn’t the only big thing that happened over the weekend… there was a KAET fundraising dinner the evening before, Saturday night, in the gorgeous East Room at Vincent’s on Camelback. Here is a look a the menu. The artwork was provided by the guest of honor.

Barbara gave the most lovely and loving introduction for Jacques to the 100+ guests.  I think that was my favorite part of the entire evening.  She spoke so beautifully and eloquently.  I am always proud to call her my friend and my mentor, but especially at that moment.

Chef Vincent Guerithault and his staff put together an intimate and delicious evening.

The two Frenchmen have been friends since the mid 1970’s, when Vincent first came to the United States. It was a spectacular evening and each guest received Jacques’ most recent cookbook, Essential Pépin.  Then at the end of the night, Jacques signed and personalized every single book to each guest – and as he was doing so, a photo was taken, as a memento of the evening for each person, as well.

The next morning, we met up at the KAET studios, in downtown Phoenix, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. The days before that, I was shopping, prepping, cooking, and packing up everything required for Jacques’ six recipes. Several of the dishes required a “twin” to be prepared or partially prepared ahead of time. Every pan, pot and utensil needed for each of the six recipes had to be brought from my home to the studio.  Trust me, it’s a lot to think about and plan for.  As an example – for the chicken dish alone, I had to organize and bring these items:

  • 1 large platter for chicken breasts
  • 1 medium plate for thighs
  • cutting board
  • chef’s knife
  • paring knife
  • liquid measuring cup
  • food processor
  • rubber spatula
  • tongs
  • whisk
  • a medium glass bowl for mousse
  • spoons for spreading on mousse
  • small bowl for potato starch
  • 1 strainer
  • 1 small metal bowl for drippings
  • 2 medium lidded saucepans for glaze and sauce
  • 2 large non-stick skillets with lids
  • corkscrew
  • 2 poultry cutting mats to protect the wooden cutting board from cross-contamination
  • Platter for serving and display

Now multiply all that by six recipes and you can imagine how much equipment I shlepped to the studio.  Then multiply that by the pressure of shopping, prepping, and cooking for a living legend!

* All photos from here down are provided by Terry Fenzl. Thank you, Terry!

Sloane, Kim, Terry (Barb’s amazing husband of nearly 45 years and partner in all things), and I arrived at the studio in two separate cars, at almost the exact same minute, just after 10:00 am. By the time we unloaded the crates, boxes, and coolers and transported it all to the sixth floor, Barbara and Jacques arrived. Immediately upon his arrival, Jacques wanted to start going through all his recipes with me… heck, I hadn’t even unloaded the cooler yet.

Yep, and here I am going over all the details with the man himself… do I look concerned? No, honestly I am not, I’m just intensely concentrating and trying to focus on his every word.

The audience arrived at noon and began to fill the seats.

There was a big screen on either side of the stage, and the audience was treated to vintage and current photos and videos as they waited for the show to begin.

Executive Producer, Henry Brodersen, with Jacques and Barbara on stage, kicking things off at a little after 1:00 pm.

There were four segments of the show:

Segment 1
Chicken Liver Mousse (Jacques)
Smoked Salmon and Poblano Terrine (Barbara)
Crab Cakes with Avocado Salsa  (Jacques)

Segment 2
Potato Crepes with Red and Black Caviar  (Jacques)
Smoked Trout, Apple, and Pecan Salad  (Barbara)
Dried and Fresh Mushroom Soup  (Jacques)

**Intermission and Catered Refreshments for the Audience**

Segment 3
Chicken Breasts with Tarragon Mousse  (Jacques)
Gratin of the Three Sisters  (Barbara)

Segment 4
Raspberry Cookie-Dough Galette  (Jacques)
Double Chocolate, Ancho Chile, and Almond Tart  (Barbara)

The taping went a bit longer than scheduled and there were “little moments” – but all in all, it was a fantastic day and I know that the finished product is going to be fabulous! It will air at 7:00 pm on Monday, June 4th.

Unbelievably, each audience member received the Essential Pépin cookbook and once again Jacques signed and personalized every single book to each person, and a photo was taken as a memento for these admirers too!

We cleaned up, packed up, and left the studio by 6:00 pm. What an excellent, exhausting, and exhilarating day!

Sloane and I went home to change and pick up Dave because the day was not over quite yet. Kim’s sweet husband, Paul, was at home all day, cooking dinner for us! Tomorrow, I’ll share pictures and details about our very special intimate dinner for ten and then the next day – Jacques’ Chicken Liver Mousse recipe.

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1 Marissa { 04.17.12 at 11:04 AM }

Sounds like fun! 🙂

2 Nancy { 04.17.12 at 11:23 AM }

Wow….all that packed into a fun filled, nonstop day….so happy for you as it was a joy to read, so I can only imagine how much fun it was to live it (despite all the work….lots and lots o’ work!)….Good for you and the upcoming events too! You are living your dream, aren’t you? YEAH! xo

3 barbara { 04.17.12 at 12:18 PM }

What a fabulous description of our dream weekend together, and it couldn’t have happened without you! You’re the best, and I am blessed to have you in my life.

4 Pat { 04.17.12 at 1:58 PM }

What a wonderful experience! You were in your glory, but what a big job. It makes me tired reading about it.

5 Sheila { 04.17.12 at 5:36 PM }

Wow! Sounds amazing!!! I can’t wait to watch the show which happens to air on my b-day! Thanks for such an awesome present. tee hee.

6 Cyndi { 04.18.12 at 10:12 AM }

So very cool! Love the photo of you on your knees …

7 Ronnie { 04.18.12 at 2:13 PM }

What a wonderful day for you! Can’t wait to see the show!

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