Jacques Pépin's Ideal Last Meal Would Be Only 2 Basic Ingredients

Have you ever thought about the perfect last meal? Chances are, you'd want your final eating experience to be a good one — perhaps a collection of foods that reflect your life, including the meals, and the people, that made it special. For Jacques Pépin, this is exactly the case — and surprisingly, it hinges on two, basic ingredients.

The iconic chef has more than enough reason to assemble what would likely be the greatest collection of food ever put up for a last meal. Pépin has been cooking professionally for over six decades. He was part of the generation of chefs, writers, and critics who helped create the modern American food scene. We know Pépin through his cookbooks, his live cooking demonstrations, and his numerous public television series.

Yet, for all his success and culinary knowledge, Pépin's last meal would begin with arguably the two most basic ingredients of all time: bread and butter. The French are known for their love of fresh baguettes and creamy butter; being French himself, Pépin is no exception. In a 2015 sit down with Anthony Bourdain, Pépin did, in fact, confirm that bread and butter would play an important part in his last meal. However, there is a little bit more to it than that. 

A very long meal

Speaking to Bourdain, Pépin said that he would like all of his relations, both living and deceased, and friends to gather at his home and eat for a "very, very, very, very" long time. This is cleverly subversive. How many of us focus on the length of the meal instead of on what's on the plate? Given the choice, many would likely opt for a meal that takes decades to finish.

This could be seen as Pépin's way of connecting the threads of childhood and old age through food, and all the people he's shared it with. Of course, for such a long meal, there would be more than just bread and butter on the table. Still, these two basic ingredients speak a deeper truth, one that is very important for Pépin: A good meal is as much about the company you keep as it is the food.

Pépin has touched on the subject previously as well. In Melanie Dunea's book "My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals," Pépin reveals a fuller answer. To go along with the great baguette and butter from Brittany would be Bélon oysters, jamon Iberíco, caviar, eggs, lobster roll, pheasant pâté, hot dogs, cherries, and champagne. It's a meal fit to serve an army, which is the whole point.

As wonderful as a crispy baguette with a slab of butter may be, it is nothing compared to having those you love around you at the table to break bread with.