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Would you cook for Jacques Pepin?

by Mary Didiuk, Board Chair and Parent '20, '22

Imagine winning the chance to enjoy a five-course meal with famous chef Jacques Pepin of recipes from his very own cookbooks! A foodie's dream! The Country School created such an opportunity on April 28 at the Come Together Spring Gala. A feverish bidding war began, paddles on either side of the room raised high. But Rachael and Kevin Alford (P ‘19, P ‘22), parents new to The Country School community, who were the highest bidders won this coveted auction item. All they had to do was save their appetite until August 10.

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While preparation for the dinner began a week prior, the actual event flew by. The guests of honor Jacques and Gloria Pepin were joined by Duncan MacLane (Founder of the MacLane Endowment and son of The Country School's first Head of School) and his wife JoAnn as well as auction winners Rachael and Kevin Alford and their guests and fellow Country School parents Suzanne and Jim Rothman (P ‘19).

Both the wine and stories poured forth. Pepin told about his friendships with Anthony Bourdain, Howard Johnson, and Julia Child. He shared how his time in France led him to meet Gloria in the Catskills and how they eventually settled in Madison.

Pepin's granddaughter Shorey inspired his newest cookbook A Grandfather’s Lessons In the Kitchen with Shorey, and he even has a new book of his art and menus due out next month. As Pepin presented an early-edition autographed book to the Alfords, we gifted him with a Country School umbrella as Jacques decorates his signature with a doodled umbrella as that is what "Pepin" means in French. Before leaving, all of the guests were presented with a copy of the evening's menu that Jacques himself painted.

All menu items came from Grandfather's Lesson except for the salmon (Fast Food My Way) and the flourless chocolate cake (Christine Maraganore, Didiuk's sister)

The five courses were served with help from recent alumnae Ava Coletti '18 and Maggie Coyne '18.  

Hummus with Feta and Sunflower Seeds

Beet and Apple Salad 

Bow-Tie Pasta in a Garden Vegetable Sauce 

Oven Baked Salmon with Sun-Dried Tomato and Salsa Mayonnaise 

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Creme Fraiche 

Assorted French Cheese

Maison Saint AIX Rose 2017

Pouilly-fume Clos Marie 2016

Blandy’s Malmsey 10 year 

Thank you to the Alfords for supporting The Country School and to the Pepins for making this epicurean dream a reality.