Andrew Zimmern Reveals How He Really Feels About Jacques Pepin - Exclusive

Food celebrities — they're just like us! They eat fast food (sometimes) and, just as we may have our little cliques, they, too, have their friends and ... frenemies. For example, did you know that legendary French chef Jacques Pépin has been pretty outspoken about Gordon Ramsay vehicles such as "Hell's Kitchen," commenting in an essay for The Daily Meal: "The cruel rivalry and conflict depicted in 'Hell's Kitchen' may be good for ratings, but it is unjust to dedicated cooks and unfair to the trade." On the other hand, the late Anthony Bourdain absolutely adored Pépin .

What about Bourdain's good friend, Andrew Zimmern, who hosted "Bizarre Foods" on The Travel Channel for more than a decade? In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Zimmern revealed that he, too, is a member of the Pépin fan club and actually called him his "favorite" foodie. "I've known him for 40 years, and he's been a great friend and a great mentor to me. And not just from a culinary standpoint, but as a dad and as someone who has spent his life working with family members, he's comforted me," Zimmern shared. "As someone who spends a lot of time on the road and didn't see my kid a lot when he was young, Jacques ... coached me up on a lot on why that's okay. Which is something that at the time I really needed."

How Jacques Pépin helped Andrew Zimmern win a cookoff

Of course, Pépin's pearls of wisdom about parenting weren't the only helpful advice he shared with Zimmern — the French chef also gave him some great insights about cooking and baking. In fact, one of his tips helped Zimmern win a cookoff that he thought he was destined to lose. "I have a very funny story. I was competing in a challenge at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival about ... gosh, it may be eight years ago," Zimmern recalled. "And I was paired against a former Iron Chef. And I thought to myself, 'Well, there's no way I'm going to win this thing!'" That was when Pépin, who had been sitting in the front row, offered Zimmern some unexpected advice: make a soufflé.

At first, Zimmern balked: "I looked at him and I said, 'You're out of your mind!' First of all, we only have half an hour, right? And it has to cook for 20, 25 minutes. And we're at altitude. We're 8,000 feet above sea level or whatever! The base of the mountain or something." But Zimmern relented after Pépin whispered some tips. "Because I trust him, and I got it in the ramekins, I put it in the oven. And as I'm hearing 45 seconds, 30 seconds on the countdown, I see the soufflés just go pop, and they rose, I pulled it out, inverted it," he recalled. "It was a very sturdy soufflé!" And the prize, indeed, went to Zimmern.

Pépin is "a brilliant culinarian," Zimmern added. "The amount of wisdom that's in his hands and in his head and in his heart when it comes to food and how to share it with people — I think is unmatched and unrivaled."

Check out Andrew Zimmern's recipes on the Hillshire Farm website and to keep up with Zimmern's culinary travels, follow him on Instagram.