August 15th this year would have been the 100th birthday of Julia Child, legendary TV chef and cookbook author. This event has inspired chefs, restaurant owners and food enthusiasts all over America to celebrate in honor of her memory. And rightly so, since she was, and still is, a major iconic figure in the culinary world.
Julia Child was credited with introducing French cuisine into the American mainstream.
She was a trail blazer for TV cooking shows.What made her so popular was not just her cooking expertise, but her great sense of humor!
Her work earned her the honor of being the first woman woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame. Julia passed away in 2004 at the age of 92, but her legacy lives on and continues to influence the American cuisine. Find out how America is remembering this culinary icon on the centennial of her birth.
Remembering Julia Child
What a personality! She was THE cooking show pioneer and did a lot to popularize good cooking. Here is a fond remembrance of one-of-kind, Julia Child.
Julia Child was born on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California. As a young adult, she had intentions of becoming a writer and enrolled in a college in Massachusetts to pursue her studies. However, her circumstances changed after the start of World War II in 1941. Julia moved to Washington to volunteer as a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services. There, she met her husband Paul, who was a fellow employee at the office.
The couple moved to France in 1948 when Paul was reassigned to work for the American Embassy in Paris. Julia quickly developed a passion for French cuisine and enrolled in a six month course at the famous Cordon Bleu Cooking School. She did not let the fact that she was the only woman hinder her. She was determined to succeed.
She developed a collaboration with two of her fellow students (Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle) to create a two-volume cookbook called “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” for the American public, which remained a bestseller for five years after its publication in 1961. The book earned Julia recognition in the culinary world and in 1962, she starred in her own TV cooking series, “The French Chef”.
Julia’s work was considered ground breaking and made her the first woman to be inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame in 1993. Then in 2000, Julia received France’s highest honor: the Legion d’Honneur. Two years later, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History included an exhibit of the kitchen in which Julia filmed her popular cooking series.
How America is Honoring Julia Child on her 100th Birthday
Here are some of the major public events, across the United States, honoring Julia Child’s 100th birthday:
1. In May, the New York publishing house launched a 100-day celebration. The festivities include themed events hosted in bookstores and links to her special recipes that have been re-created by food bloggers. It also released the first Julia Child app from iTunes ($2.99), which allows you to download 32 recipes from her cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”
2. We are fortunate that Julia Child’s joy de vivre lives on in the recording of her TV shows. PBS, the network that aired Julia’s cooking series, “The French Chef”, created a birthday website. Fans will be able to find nearly 100 full episodes from her cooking series and specials. If you’re interested, you can visit the PBS website to watch episodes of Julia Child, Cooking with the Master Chefs!
Here are a few of Julie Child’s tips on garnishing with edibles.
3. Pasadena, Julia’s birth place, is hosting a two-day 100th birthday party on Wednesday August 15th and Thursday August 16th. Restaurants and bars in Pasadena will be creating drinks and dishes in her honor. There will also be a Julia Child look-a-like contest on one of those nights.
4. There will be a nation wide Julia Child Restaurant Week between August 7th and 15th. 100 restaurants across America will rework their usual menus to include a several of her signature dishes. You can search your city’s event website to see if there’s a restaurant near you that is participating in the festivities.
5. From August 15th to September 3rd, The National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. will reopen Julia’s kitchen exhibit and show rare episodes from her TV series, “The French Chef”.
I had the pleasure of seeing The Julia Child kitchen exhibit when I was in Washington, D.C. to carve pumpkins at the White House last year. It was quite entertaining. If you are in D.C. I recommend you stop in to see the exhibit.
Another really enjoyable offshoot of Julia Child’s legacy is the popular movie “Julie and Julia” that came out a couple of years ago. It shows the true stories of how Julia Child’s (Meryl Streep) life and cookbook inspired fledgling writer Julie Powell
(Amy Adams) to whip up 524 recipes in 365 days. I really loved this movie. Meryl Streep portrays Julia Child as a truly fun loving and adventurous woman who went after her dreams.
One thing that Julia Child (Meryl Streep) says in the movie that stuck in my mind was about when you present your dish, make “no apologies and no excuses”, or something close to that. I love that attitude. So positive. and well applied to presenting fruit and vegetable carvings.
And of course, who could forget the hilarious Saturday Night Live episode where Dan Aykroyd impersonates Julia Child. Here it is. (Forgive the commercial. The bit shows right afterward.)
The French Chef by y10566
Time marches on and styles change. So here is a recent incarnation of Julia Child’s legacy in this Julia Child music video remix.
I hope this memories of Julia Child gave you a smile.
Have fun if you are planning to take part in Julia Child’s birthday celebration. If there aren’t any of her birthday events in your city, or even if you’ve never heard of Julia Child before, I encourage you to just celebrate good food and give one of her recipes a try!