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    Culinary Stars Jacques Pépin and Joanne Weir to be Celebrated at the Sonoma International Film Festival

    By Liam P. Mayclem–

    Beloved chefs Jacques Pépin and Joanne Weir, who are best known for their TV shows on PBS, will be appearing at the upcoming Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) that will take place from March 23–27. Chef Pépin will be in person at the festival on March 24 to receive the first SIFF Culinary Excellence Award. There will be a five-course dinner as well. Chef Weir, in turn, will host a special lunch on March 25 during which she will share some TV segments from the places she’s traveled, to bring the flavors of Spain, Morocco, and Greece to diners’ plates, including some great wines and Thomas Adams Chocolates.

    I have had the joy of being in the company of both of these culinary stars over the years and want to share a few fond memories with you for the San Francisco Bay Times.

    Renowned Chef and Artist Jacques Pépin

    Firstly, Chef Pépin, one of America’s most celebrated and cherished chefs, has filmed his PBS cooking series at KQED in San Francisco for more than twenty years. He has a special relationship with the city and with the nearby Sonoma wine country.

    His cookbooks and television series have garnered numerous honors, including the Julia Child Cookbook Award, the James Beard Award for Best National Cooking Segment, and Best Culinary Video. Many cooks today fondly remember the Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home television series, for which both he and Julia Child won an Emmy in 2001. Chef Pépin entered the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame in 1996.

    I first met him on Bastille Day 2002 over a champagne and caviar breakfast with his friend Chef Roland Passot for KRON’s morning news show. An Irish-Brit and two French chefs making omelets at 7 am … it was indeed fun TV, and as you might imagine, the conversation and the champagne was flowing in equal measure. Jacques’ passion, good humor, and humility made me instantly love him.

    More recently (2019), we celebrated Jacques at the home of Chef Passot in Mill Valley. It was an honor to play server for the event, or as I put it, his “Brit butler” for the day. At 86 years young, he is still brilliant, smart, and brimming with great wit. And he loves to teach; even over lunch he dispensed knowledge and stories of how to be a better cook.

    “Cook what you love to eat,” he said. “Keep it simple. Respect the ingredients.”

    This may be the best advice any chef has ever given me.

    Meet this legend in person at SIFF to see him accept the well-deserved SIFF Culinary Excellence Award during the 25th anniversary festival Chefs & Shorts culinary event on March 24. The SIFF honorarium also includes a $10,000 donation to the Jacques Pépin Foundation. 

    In addition to this recognition, the five-course dinner, where noted chefs each prepare a course paired with a food short film and wines, is the alchemy for a perfect evening of culinary extravagance. The event is a collaboration between the SIFF and Devour! The Food Film Festival.

    Chef and Television Host Joanne Weir

    “Food is a part of our everyday life. It’s a relatable, sensual vehicle that draws the viewer in and closer to the experience. The viewer may not be able to taste or smell the aromas of the food in film, but it’s about the sound of the sizzle in the pan, the slurp of a raw briny oyster, or the snap of a bite of chocolate that triggers an emotional response. Food in film restores memories and creates inspiration for new ones yet to come,” said Joanne Weir, who will also soon be appearing at the SIFF.

    Chef Weir is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, international cooking teacher, and renowned chef. Her PBS show, Plates & Places, is a cinematic new series filmed on location throughout some of her favorite culinary destinations. Perhaps some of this beautiful, informative series will be shared during the SIFF culinary lunch on March 25 (11 am–1 pm).

    I first met Joanne after signing up for a cooking class almost twenty years ago. I became an instant fan of her food and the Chef herself. Her restaurant Copita in Sausalito is one of my favorite spots in the Bay Area. It features some of the most authentic Mexican food you will ever enjoy and margaritas that will knock your socks off!! I always encourage friends to take the Ferry there from San Francisco and Uber home.

    Get tickets now as they will sell quickly for the March 25th luncheon and for Chef Pépin’s Award and celebration dinner.

    Both events provide an amazing, tantalizing opportunity to enjoy food and film in the company of two world-renowned and beloved Chefs, Joanne Weir and Jacques Pépin. See you in Sonoma in March at the 25th SIFF!

    For More Information

    Jacques Pépin:
    Jacques Pépin Art:
    Joanne Weir:

    Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem is regularly featured on KPIX as well as KCBS, where he is the popular Foodie Chap. Born in London, Mayclem is now at home in the Bay Area, where he lives with his husband, photographer Rick Camargo. For more information:

    Published on February 10, 2022