Photo of celebrity chef Jacques and Claudine Pepin, host of Saint Martin's University Gala 2020
April 16, 2020

LACEY, Wash. – Saint Martin’s University has announced that the 2020 Saint Martin’s Gala will feature celebrity chef Jacques Pépin, world-renowned host of several acclaimed and popular cooking programs on public television, including his series with Julia Child, “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.” He will be joined by Claudine Pépin, his daughter and co-host for the series “Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Encore with Claudine” and “Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine.”

The Saint Martin's Gala, which will be on Saturday, Nov. 7, currently planned to be held in the Marcus Pavilion on Saint Martin’s main campus in Lacey, is the University’s major fundraising event for student scholarships. Last year’s Gala raised $1.4 million for scholarships. Over the years, the black-tie affair has grown to be the premier culinary event in the South Sound region, featuring a live auction, a five-course gourmet dinner and on-stage cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs. Previous featured chefs have included Carla Hall, Roy Yamaguchi, Ming Tsai, Andrew Zimmern, Lidia Bastianich and Michael Symon.

This year, 2020, also marks Saint Martin’s University’s 125th anniversary as an institution of higher learning. As part of its 125th anniversary, the University will honor its namesake, Saint Martin of Tours, with a French-themed menu and recipes from Pépin, a James Beard Award-winning chef and dean of special programs of the International Culinary Center (formerly The French Culinary Institute).

Saint Martin’s University President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., said, “We are so blessed to welcome celebrated chef, author, educator and culinary legend Jacques Pépin as the host of Gala 2020. His lifelong passion for food and cooking as well as his commitment to education and nonprofits make him the perfect host for the Saint Martin’s University Gala during our 125th anniversary year.”

Pépin was born in Bourg-en-Bresse, near Lyon, France. His first began cooking as a child in his parents' restaurant, Le Pelican. At age thirteen, he started his formal apprenticeship at the distinguished Grand Hotel de L’Europe. He then worked in Paris, training under Lucien Diat at the Plaza Athénée. From 1956 to 1958, Pépin was the personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle.

In 1959, he moved to the United States and worked first at New York's historic Le Pavillon restaurant, then served for ten years as director of research and new development for the Howard Johnson Company. He studied at Columbia University, earning an M.A. degree in 18th-century French literature in 1972.

Pépin has been honored with 16 James Beard Foundation Awards, the American Public Television’s lifetime achievement award, and the Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is the recipient of three of the French government’s highest honors: he is a Chevalier de L’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur, Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1997) and a Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole (1992). He is a founder of The American Institute of Wine and Food, a member of the International Association of Cooking Professionals, and is on the board of trustees of James Beard Foundation.

Saint Martin’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement Cecelia Loveless shared, “In these uncertain times, I want to say thank you for the generosity of our donors throughout the years who have assisted thousands of our students with scholarship support. As we look to this year’s Gala, we must continue to be courageous in our giving, as our students need our support more than ever.”

For more information about table reservations and ticket sales to the event, visit www.stmartin.edu/gala. Individuals or organizations interested in sponsoring Saint Martin’s Gala can contact Renee Oram, director for development, corporate and athletic sponsorships, at roram@stmartin.edu.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 13 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 29 majors, 11 master’s programs, one doctorate program and five certificate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. 

For additional information:

Cecelia Loveless
Vice President, Institutional Advancement
360-412-6138; cloveless@stmartin.edu

Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
360-438-4332; gchan@stmartin.edu