Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Finally Jacques Pepin fell for me

Be still my heart. I met my fantasy man, the world famous Chef Jacques Pepin last week. Sort of. We were sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. It was a French cafe - (mais oui!) and the only one in town. We were checked out of the hotel and grabbing lunch before our car arrived. I was eating a French classic, Salade Nicoise and drinking Perrier (vraiment)...
Suddenly I see Jacques and his best buddy also a chef, Claude, pass by on the sidewalk just a few feet away from our table (alors!). My husband was sitting with his back to the street but saw my face register and as soon as I sputtered my explanation and knowing my decades long infatuation, he urged me to seize the moment. Just as they passed out of view, I un-froze and lept up from my chair and onto the sidewalk.
Luckily, just a few feet away Jacques and Claude had stopped to let the small black poodle Jacques was walking (mais ouis again...a French Poodle) have a sniff with an oncoming dog. While I was still mentally panicking over whether best to address him as Mr. Pepin, Monsieur Pepin or just Jacques, he turned to proceed and suddenly fell to the ground, still holding the leash! I immediately addressed my great hero with these clever words: "OOOhhh...are you all right?" while Claude grabbed an elbow to help him up. Monsieur Pepin sat up, looked me right in the eye, nodded and then got the rest of the way up himself with some difficulty and less dignity, and turned away.
At that point Claude looked directly at me - and rather suspiciously I thought - as though wondering why this American woman was following so closely behind them. And (mon Dieu!) as both of them were so obviously embarassed and the situation so awkward, I instantly decided I couldn't bring myself to impose a celebrity encounter on them. I would take the high road and make do forever with that one moment of direct eye contact... which was more than I had ever dreamed of, after all.
Footnote: I learned several years ago that Jacques Pepin had a condo in PDC that was available as a rental and when we were shopping for a vacation destination recently, I got very excited when the web site calendar showed the condo was available over our dates. The photos were awesome also. Alas the rental agent subsequently told me the owner would be in residence through March and the calendar innacurate so we made other plans but had no idea of the actual location of the condo which turned out to be across the street from our hotel so I had no hopes for even a brief sighting. To have slept in his bed, cooked with his pots would have been amazing (incroyable). But a real life encounter was even more exciting.

Click here for more about Jacques, still writing cookbooks