Julia Child (August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) was an American chef, author, and television personality. She is recognized for introducing French cuisine to the American public with her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her subsequent television programs, the most notable of which was The French Chef, which premiered in 1963
I was always very hungry, but I had - I never did any cooking at all. It wasn't until I went over to China in World War II. I was with the OSS, and I just adored that Chinese food. It was so delicious. We were in Kunming and Chongqing. And then I met - there were a lot of sophisticated world travelers whom I met, and food was discussed a great deal. And then after the war, when I married and settled down in Washington, D.C., I began to cook and found that I enjoyed it immensely.
In an interview from the 1980s, Julia Child recalls being hooked on French cooking from the very first bite. She made it her passion her life, spending her career guiding American amateurs through the fabled intricacies of French cooking.
Julia Child received honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College, Rutgers University, Smith College and Harvard University. She was elected a member of the Confrérie de Ceres for her work on French bread and was a member of the American chapter of the Commandérie des Cordons Bleus de France. She was awarded two national Emmys: in 1995 for her Master Chefs series and in 1997 for Baking with Julia. In 1999 she received the Peabody Award from Public Television.
Used to the luxury of maids and cooks, Child never had the slightest interest in cooking through her young adulthood. Tall, energetic, outdoorsy, a tennis player and given to pranks, Child dutifully went through the debutante routine expected in her social class and managed to get a degree from Smith College.
Just before Child turned 90 and moved to California, she gave the Cambridge, Mass., kitchen where she filmed three of her TV shows to the Smithsonian Institution. Curators at the National Museum of American History reassembled it exactly as it was — except for one major part.
Almost 48 years after it was first published, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child is finally topping the best-seller list, bringing with it all the butter, salt and goose fat that home chefs had largely abandoned in the age of Lipitor.
Child's late husband, Paul, designed the kitchen for her in 1961, and there she cooked for herself, for family and friends, for professional colleagues -- and for the entire country. For seven years the kitchen was a set for three enormously popular public-television series. Millions of Americans watched the shows and felt they had cooked, eaten, and laughed there with an old friend.
"In the 1960s, you could eat anything you wanted, and of course, people were smoking cigarettes and all kinds of things, and there was no talk about fat and anything like that, and butter and cream were rife. Those were lovely days for gastronomy, I must say.
The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts was created by Julia in 1995 as a grant-giving private foundation. Through its support of 501©(3) organizations whose work advances matters Julia valued, the Foundation honors her lifelong love of learning, her far-reaching impact as a teacher and mentor, and her passion for gastronomy and the culinary arts.
She was a tall, exuberant woman who could make lobster bisque look as easy as toast. But she was also respected by food professionals for the clarity and rigor with which she translated French cuisine for an American audience, most impressively in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," a work that Craig Claiborne, in The New York Times, said "may be the finest volume on French cooking ever published in English."
With an incredible amount of work already behind her, Child eventually returned to the States for good with her husband. Not long after her return, a television interview at WGBH-Boston turned into an audition for Child for a series of TV cooking shows. The French Chef was born shortly after, first airing on February 11, 1963. After completing some 200 programs on classical French cooking with The French Chef series, Child branched out into contemporary cuisine with the television series Julia Child & Company, Julia Child & More Company, and Dinner at Julia's. In 1984, she completed six "The Way to Cook" teaching videocassettes.
Julia enrolls in the famed Parisian cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu. After a false start in a "housewife" level class, and deemed unqualified for a six-week haute cuisine course for experts, she is placed in a yearlong program for professional restaurateurs with eleven former GIs. Her instructor and mentor is chef Max Bugnard, who had worked with Auguste Escoffier in London. Under his tutelage, Julia thrives.
While Child knew next to nothing about cooking, let alone French cuisine, until she was well into her 30s, her show "The French Chef" made her TV's first food celebrity after it premiered on public television in 1963.
Julia Child was born in Pasadena, CA and graduated from Smith College in 1934. After college, she worked in publicity and advertising in New York. Although her legacy permanently associates her with France, Child was a very patriotic citizen, and during World War II Child served with the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, DC, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and China (where she met her husband, Paul Child). And when the war ended and Paul was assigned to the US Information Service at The American Embassy in Paris, Child was finally introduced to the French culture she had, until then, appreciated only from a distance.