Julia Child made a profound impact on the way Americans cook and eat. Her cookbooks and her television shows helped get Americans, who had embraced processed foods and TV dinners, back into the kitchen. The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts has created the Julia Child Award to honor others who have changed the way American's cook, eat and drink. The firstrecipient is chef, cookbook author and culinary personality Jacques Pépin.

Pépin was chosen from a confidential shortlist of accomplished candidates because of his "significant contributions to the American food world through his books, public appearances, award-winning television programs and his support of culinary education like the Gastronomy Program at Boston University, which he helped found with Julia."

Pépin has written more than two dozen cookbooks and hosted 13 public television cooking series, including the Emmy-award winning "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home." The chef recently completed filming his 14th cooking series for PBS, "Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul" which will air this fall, in time for his 80th birthday. A companion cookbook will be released to coincide with the show.

The French-born chef moved to the United States in 1959 after an impressive culinary career that began as a child when he helped at his parents' restaurant. By the age of 13, he was an apprentice at the Grand Hotel De L'Europe, eventually becoming the personal chef to three French heads of state. Once in America, he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at Columbia University and began writing, teaching and appearing on television. Pépin also works with nonprofits that promote healthy eating and work to combat hunger like Spoons Across America and Share our Strength.

He will be presented with the Julia Child Award on Oct. 22 at a gala at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (where Julia Child's kitchen is now an exhibit). The theme is "Innovation on your Plate" and it will support the museum's American Food History Project and kick off its inaugural Smithsonian Food History Weekend. I may need to take a drive down to Washington, D.C., that weekend. I'd love to see a food history exhibit curated by the Smithsonian.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Inaugural Julia Child award goes to Jacques Pepin
The annual award will be given to someone who has made a difference in the way Americans cook, eat and drink.