Hugh Acheson

Hugh reflects on Nick's in-it-to-win-it attitude and his elusive happiness and lauds the force of Dominique Crenn.

on Jan 8

Let me say right up front, Jacques Pepin is a legend. Period. He is also the classiest man to ever polish a copper pot: full of grace, empathy, passion and knowledge.

We are starting out as we start most episodes these days, with Nicholas taking the piss out of Carlos. This time it's an accusation that Carlos has been just cooking Mexican food the whole time. Yeah, Mexican food is kind of limitless Nicholas. Open your eyes. And Carlos is Mexican. His restaurant is called Mexique. He's going to probably cook stuff with a kinship to that, while you cook your "modern American influenced by France."

Pepin is standing like the icon in an apron that he is. Padma introduces him and the challenge: Jacques will demonstrate his famous Dover Sole with Artichokes and Asparagus and then the chefs will recreate.

The dish is a beautiful ode to France from the cold water Normandy fish to the flavors of Provence with the tomatoes and artichoke. It is a dish that everyone should be able to cook because it has place, meaning, and the core techniques that are so important to all food. The basics are that the vegetables need to be prepped, a buttery nage needs to be made to be the enrobing sauce, the fish needs to be butchered and pinwheeled, and then the dish needs to be finished. . .Easy as pie. . .well not really.