Foreword by Patricia Unterman
A narratively rich cookbook of French and Californian recipes from longtime Chez Panisse executive chef Jean-Pierre Moulle and his wife, Denise Moulle.
Jean-Pierre and Denise Moullé met on a street corner in Berkeley, California, in 1980; six months later they were married. French Roots is the story of their lives told through the food they cook—beginning with the dishes of old-world France, the couple’s birthplace, and focusing on the simple, pared-down preparations of French food common in the postwar period. The story then travels to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s, where Jean-Pierre was appointed executive chef at Chez Panisse when California cuisine was just emerging as a distinctive and important style, and where Denise began importing French wine. Finally, the journey follows the couple to their homes in Sonoma, California, and Bordeaux to revisit the classic dishes of the Moullés’ native country and hone the forgotten skills of foraging, hunting, and preserving.
Exquisitely written, with recipes that are innovative and timeless, insights on cooking and thinking like a chef, and an insider’s guide to the wines of Bordeaux, French Roots is much more than a cookbook—it’s a guide to living the good life.
This book and its exquisite pictures bring back so many memories of the beautiful way Jean-Pierre and Denise cook and live. We had a dinner at their home in Peyraut that I will never forget: Eels freshly caught from the river, wrapped in bacon and grilled over the open fire, that was perfect in its simplicity. My time with them in France was a revelatory experience, and an extraordinary education. The Moullés’ rich cultural heritage and unique sensibility are both thoughtfully captured in this book through their evocative stories, recipes, and images. Jean-Pierre has a rustic yet elegant style in the kitchen—a rare combination—and I have always admired the graceful way he approaches food. Whether he is effortlessly filleting a fish or boning a leg of lamb; assembling a beautiful, seasonal four-course menu, or preparing a special lunch for friends with a wild duck he hunted himself; cooking is second nature to him. This book is a delight to read, and perfectly captures the values that matter most: gathering with family and friends around the table and living attuned to the rhythms of the land with a deep respect for season and place.”
—Alice Waters, proprietor of Chez Panisse and author of The Art of Simple Food
“That Jean-Pierre and Denise Moullé curated such a stunning collection of recipes is an inevitability. That they managed to animate each recipe with feeling and memory is a supreme act of generosity. French Roots lovingly narrates the places, times, and tastes that shaped their marriage—it’s a vivid reminder of the transcendence of good cooking.”
—Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns
“Count yourself lucky to own this book, a collaboration by one of the most magical couples I know. My husband and I spent a week with them, and it was an inspiration to watch them in action, so relaxed and intuitive about food, wine, hospitality, and life.”