VAV!/September 26, 2013
THE Julia Child revolutionized American cuisine through her French cooking school, multi award-winning cookbooks, and globally renowned television programs by offering an approachable technique to French cooking for four decades.
Julia Child, uber popular television chef and author,was born on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California. She moved to France in 1948, where she developed a passion for French cuisine. Julia was intent on adapting this cuisine to mainstream Americans, and in doing so, she collaborated on a cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" published in 1961, and since considered a standard in culinary guides.
Julia, the oldest of three children, also known as Juke, Juju and Jukies by her father, John McWilliams, Jr., a Princeton graduate and California real estate investor. Her mother, Julia Carolyn Weston, was an heiress of a paper company and Julia's grandfather once served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. Not too humble beginnings for Julia.
She lived a privileged childhood, courtesy of the families' wealth, and was educated at San Francisco's prestigious Katherine Branson School for Girls. Julia stood out in the class as a 6' 2" fun loving, athletic student.
In 1930, she enrolled at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts for writing. After graduation, Julia moved to New York and began work in the advertising department of W&J Sloane. A transfer to the store's Los Angeles branch later found Child fired for a reported 'gross insubordination.'
By 1941, as the devastation of World War II was looming on the horizon, Julia moved to Washington, D.C., where she volunteered as a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). While there, Julia played a key role in the office...one filled with world wide assignments of intrigue in the communication of top-secret documents between U.S. government officials and their intelligence officers.
During an assignment in 1945, somewhere in Sri Lanka, Child plunged into a romantic relationship with another OSS employee, Paul Child. By September of 1946, at war's end, the couple returned to America where they were married.
The Childs moved to Paris in 1948 after Paul was reassigned to the U.S. Information Service at the American Embassy. It was there that Julia developed her lifelong passion for French cuisine. She attended the respected Cordon Bleu cooking school for six months (including private lessons with the master chef Max Bugnard). She bonded with like minded fellow students, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, to organize the cooking school L'Ecole de Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Gourmands).
Above: Julia Child Remixed
Intent on adapting French cuisine for mainstream Americans, the three collaborated on a two volume cookbook. After the first publisher rejected the manuscript due to its length, the book was accepted by another publisher who released it in September of 1961, with the title of 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking.' The book was a huge success and the bestselling cookbook for five straight years after its publication. Since then the book has become a standard guide for the culinary community.
While promoting her book on Boston public television, Julia's forthright, frank and humorous manner was met with an overwhelming favorable public response. She was offered her own series, 'The French Chef TV,' that premiered on WGBH in 1962. Shortly thereafter, the series was syndicated to 96 stations throughout America. Child also introduced the television programs 'Julia Child and Company' in 1978, 'Julia Child and More Company' in 1980, and 'Dinner at Julia's' in 1983, alongside many bestselling cookbooks in culinary education.
Her success and impact worldwide was so enormous that Julia became the recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award in 1964 followed by an Emmy Award in 1966. She became the first woman ever to be inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame. In November 2000, Julia received France's: Legion d'Honneur. During August 2002, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History introduced an exhibit featuring the kitchen where Julia filmed three of her cooking shows.
Julia Child died of kidney failure in August 2004 in Montecito. She was just two days away from her 92nd birthday at her death.
Today, Julia's legacy lives on through her cookbooks and syndicated shows. During 2009 a film, 'Julie & Julia', opened to rave reviews in theatres. The movie, starred Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, and chronicled Child's life, and her influence around the globe.
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