Pépin, the second of three sons, was born in 1935 in Bourg-en-Bresse, near Lyon in France. After World War II, his parents, Jeannette and Jean-Victor Pépin, owned the restaurant Le Pélican, where Pépin worked and later became known for his love for food. He went on to work in Paris, training under Lucien Diat at the Plaza Athénée. From 1956 to 1958, during his military service, Pépin was the personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle.
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