5 Reasons Why We Love Julia Child

Julia Child once said, “One of the secrets and pleasures of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.” She served as a source of inspiration for a generation of cooks.

Her wit and humor were only a couple of reasons why Americans fell in love with Julia. Grab a glass of wine, prepare beef bourguignon, slather tons of real butter on a loaf of bread (no margarine allowed) and honor our favorite home cook, Julia Child. Bon appetit!

1. She had an impressive career before culinary school.

Born on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, CA, Julia Child had an idyllic upbringing. She attended boarding schools and graduated from Smith College in 1934. After graduation, she headed to New York to become an advertising copywriter.

Due to World War II, her copyrighting career was cut short and she joined the Office of Strategic Service (OSS), a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Julia worked her way up to become a top secret researcher. She managed highly classified information and was posted overseas in various places including Kunming, China.

It was in Kunming, that Julia met her husband Paul Child (a fellow OSS employee). They were married in 1946 and in 1948 the US State Department assigned Paul to Paris. It was here that Julia discovered her love of French cuisine.

Not working for the OSS anymore, Julia attended Le Cordon Bleu and studied with master chefs around Paris. In 1951, along with other two other women she met in a cooking club, they embarked on a journey to translate French recipes into English and create a book that would change her life forever.

2. The Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook.

It was a long and arduous process to get Mastering the Art of French Cooking published. When finally published in 1961, it was definitely a labor of love.

Julia tested recipes, made adjustments and tested again to introduce Americans to beef bourguignon, cassoulets and other classic French cooking. Her goal was to make classic French cuisine available to everyone and she definitely succeeded. Along with Volume 2, Mastering the Art of French Cooking has been considered one of the most influential American cookbooks in history. Not bad for a woman who grew up with a cook and never learned how to prepare meals as a child.

3. She was the first celebrity television chef.

After the popularity of a presentation Julia did for WGBH in Boston from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The French Chef was born. Running from 1963 to 1973 (and still in repeats today), The French Chef was the first cooking program to air on television housewives could watch in their home. At this point in America, the majority of women had not entered the workplace and Julia provided inspiration for them to prepare meals for their family beyond TV dinners. Child was a pioneer in television cooking. Without The French Chef, the Food Network may have never been developed.

4. She was relatable.

Thanks to how television was originally produced (much less editing than you find today), bloopers and blunders appeared in the final episode. Back then, shows were done live-to-videotape which meant there was no room for mistakes.

But Julia used her mistakes as teachable moments. A souffle didn't rise... possibly it wasn't greased properly. An omelet falls apart while being flipped? No problem, just put everything back in the pan and try again. Cake fall apart? There's nothing a bit of frosting can't fix. These "flubs" and the way Julia presented cooking the recipes actually made Julia relatable to all home cooks.

5. Even after her death, she is still inspiring cooks today.

Writer Julie Powell attempted to prepare every recipe from Mastering the Art of French cooking within one year and chronicling it on her blog the Julie/Julia Project. After the success of the blog, the concept was turned into a book and later adapted into the movie Julie and Julia. This created a whole new audience for Julia's cooking.

Thanks to the success of the movie and a reissue of the cookbook, 49 years after it was first published Mastering the Art of French Cooking became an American bestseller again.

If you're in Washington, DC, make sure to visit the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History where you can see Julia's kitchen from her Cambridge, Massachusetts home. The French Chef was filmed here and is unique because it was designed with higher counters since Child was 6'2" tall. After visiting, maybe you'll be inspired to get in the kitchen and cook yourself.

Kendra Eggleton - Jan 28, 2018
Thank you for this inspirational post. Reading the article was worth every moment, and I've since found much more information about Julia.
Dave Walden - Aug 15, 2017
My favorite Saturday mornings were spent watching Julia cooking with master chefs on PBS. I'm not sure why, but she inspired me to cook "hard stuff" more than any other TV chef. Miss you and love you Julia !
cindy Haynes - Aug 14, 2017
Thank you....very interesting!
CAROLYN CHOI - Aug 14, 2017
Wonderful memories of her show. I was just out of college, on rest with serious Mono. I took in sewing to pay the rent and watched her show while sewing. I decided to learn to cook. My roommate always cooked I did not. What fun it was to flub up her recipes on a regular basis.