As a cookbook author and the daughter and longtime co-host of legendary Master Chef Jacques Pépin, Claudine Pépin has long been rooted in the culinary world – and the Oceania Cruises family. With Sirena’s christening fast approaching, we are very excited to officially announce that Claudine will serve as godmother to Sirena, welcoming her to the Oceania Cruises fleet on April 27, 2016. We recently sat down for a brief Q&A with Claudine – on cooking, her father, what she’s looking forward to most on board Sirena and more.
What’s it like to cook with your father?
I love it. I grew up in a house of chefs. I’m a pro at doing the dishes, making sure everyone’s glasses are full, having the hors d’oeuvres out and happily hosting – making sure everything goes as smoothly as possibly without it looking like it’s any work at all. In fact, when I started cooking with my father during the first show (“Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine”) – well, what you see in that first season is me truly learning. It’s very real and honest. My dad would actually tell me not to ask cooking questions off-camera because he wanted all of those interactions to be captured on the show. It was how I learned how to cook. And now my husband and I cook together all the time for my daughter.
You’ve trained with some of New York’s best sommeliers – what’s your favorite wine?
Sauvignon blanc – it goes with everything! I also love pinot grigio. White, bright, crisp, unoaked. I tend towards lighter styles in white and red. Wine should be fun – it should complement your food.
Describe your perfect food day.
Get up at the crack of ten. Coffee, baguette and really good butter for breakfast. For lunch or brunch, I would do smoked trout, caviar, scrambled eggs, a baguette with butter and smoked salmon. For dinner, I’d have beautiful little oysters on the half-shell, followed by my husband’s fish chowder. Then, a lobster/shrimp course followed by a really good hanger steak. Finish with a salad and cheese – I don’t have a sweet tooth.
Your first cookbook, Let’s Cook French, was released this year. Any plans to write another?
I’d like to do one with my husband eventually. It would focus on the food we cook at home, whether it’s butternut squash that we cook in the oven or Indian food, or what we grill. He makes this amazing flatbread on the grill. It would encompass what we really treasure at home – which is quite eclectic.
Many people may not know, but your father is also an artist. Tell us about this.
He has an art website that I manage, and we sell the prints – they are all signed. I love his artwork – my home is filled with it. It makes me feel close to him, like he’s here. And it makes me think of different times in our lives. His subject matter and style have evolved so much over the years. He’ll make something, and I’ll say can I have it? The oldest canvas I have is from 1966. It’s a cool abstract bird: red and black, vibrant and dark. It’s a stunning piece.
Best piece of advice from your dad?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s his mantra. When I think about it now, as a cook – I’m not a chef, I shouldn’t take myself too seriously. I’m a mashed potato maker. We’re so lucky to do what we do. We make people happy with the food we cook and we get to do it as family – that’s the fun and beauty in it.
What are you most looking forward to on board Sirena?
We are all so delighted to be able to be on board together – I’m looking forward to, well, everything! We’ll be cooking together, enjoying delicious food – and, of course, laughing as much as possible. It will be a pleasure to share this special experience with all of the guests and staff aboard Sirena.
Celebrate Sirena in 2016 with Claudine!
Watch Claudine’s heartfelt reaction to being chosen as the godmother to Sirena.