Meeting Jacques Pepin

I've never been so nervous cutting shallots.

On Wednesday afternoon, my partner and I were prepping our branzino dish for dinner. The dish calls for a tomato fondue component, so we busily minced shallots. It felt like any other day. I mean, how exciting can cutting shallots be?

But as I'm slicing my shallots, I turn around for a second and to the right of my shoulder is Jacques Pepin. My eyes open wider, I stand up taller and my heart beats a little faster. I'm thinking, "One of the legends of the culinary world watching me cut shallots."

I think it's the first time I ever questioned if I knew how to cut a shallot.

Pepin, a dean at the French Culinary Institute, is more than just respected, chefs worship him. He simply watched me for about a minute before moving on. I was waiting to be corrected or to see a judgmental look on his face. I survived that pressure-filled minute.

Once he moved to another part of the kitchen, I started thinking about how great it'd be to work with him in the same kitchen. This man's culinary knowledge couldn't be taught in the course our culinary program.

I'm hoping to meet Pepin again — when I'm not cutting shallots or judging my final.

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