The Time Julia Child Pulled A Prop Gun On Jacques Pépin

In a world full of celebrity chefs and food influencers, why do we remain so charmed by OG foodies like Julia Child and Jacques Pépin? Is it their passion for French cuisine? Or perhaps their playful humor? Both chefs are informative and entertaining on their own, but when paired together, that's when the magic happened.

Child and Pépin co-hosted a PBS cooking show in the 1990s aptly called "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home." How did the series come to be? Pépin told NPR that he and Child had been friends ever since meeting in the 1960s, and they remained close until Child's passing in 2004. According to GBH, they met through a food editor, who reached out to Pépin with one of Child's manuscripts and offered him the chance to cook with the Boston woman, whom the editor described as being "tall" and having "a terrible voice." (It's unclear whether that editor realized that Child would become an icon, and her distinctive voice would charm generations of food lovers.)

"We argued all the time, but we drank a lot of wine, too," Pépin told NPR about the duo's decades-long relationship, which the The Tampa Bay Times classified as a "sassy friendship." Some of their antics took "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" viewers by surprise, like when Pépin wore a toga while making Child's Caesar salad recipe, per Wine Spectator. However, one of Child's stunts took the cake.

Cooking like it's 1999

In a 1999 "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" episode, Child pulled out and fired a prop pistol as a signal for Pépin to race on in their "battle of the soufflés." The contest was to see which chef could whip their egg whites to stiff peaks the fastest, explained a 1999 Wine Spectator article. The scene was in Season 1, Episode 15, titled "Soufflés" (per IMDb).

To understand why "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" was unique, it may help to better understand how it was made. In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Pépin explained the show was unusual for the time since the duo didn't start with carefully planned recipes. Instead, Pépin and Child opted to keep it more natural and cook like they would at home, sometimes even improvising ingredients while filming.

The pair also mixed in little jokes and skits, showcasing their rapport and distinct personalities. This friendly yet competitive dynamic was just part of Pépin and Child's chemistry; when those two got together, you never knew what would happen — including little bits like the aforementioned prop gun incident. Even the famous "SNL" skit featuring Dan Aykroyd as Child may have been inspired by a real-life knife snafu involving Child and Pépin.