Julia Child; born in Pasadena, California as Julia Carolyn McWilliams August 15, 1912.
Julia Child spent her early years in California where she grew up and attended school. Julia Child’s first position out of college was with W. & J. Sloane as a copywriter in New York City. A few year in 1937 after her debut on Madison Avenue, Child’s moved back to California, where she continued to write and work in advertising.
Julia Child met her husband Paul Child, while serving with the OSS (Office of Strategic Services the forerunner of today’s CIA) in 1944.
Paul and Julia were married in 1946 and soon after he joined the US Foreign Service. Paul Child had a taste for fine food, probably due in part to living in Paris prior to meeting Julia. As a employee of the US Foreign Service, Paul was sent to Paris in 1948, where he introduced his new bride to sophisticated French Cuisine. Julia described her first meal in Rouen, France as “a culinary revelation”.
Paul’s work at the embassy would keep him away from Julia most of the day, creating a void and desire to offset her boredom. So, Julia began to enrolled in many different classes. Eventually she enrolled in the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. It was no easy task at first, being in a school of only men at the time, she had to learn to love cooking as much as she loved eating.
Julia Child’s graduation from Le Cordon Bleu created an opportunity for her to meet the two women that would become co-authors of her first cookbook “Mastering The Art of French Cooking”; Simon Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The two had create a cookbook that featured French Cooking for Americans, but lacked the proper English translation. Julia was asked to join the women and added her own translation and special American slant to the manuscript.
Child’s kitchen was used as the training grounds for American women to learn French Cooking and the trio began teaching classes and testing recipes from the Paris kitchen. During this time Julia’s husband Paul, was transferred by the US Foreign Services to various locations throughout Europe. Julia moved with him, while continuing to write the book and test new recipes.
Although they spent most of their time in Europe, Paul and Julia would also spend summers in Maine. Julia made her first trip there in 1947, visiting Mount Desert, where Paul’s family owned a 20 acre parcel. She continued to test and write even while visiting Maine. And according to her Brother-in Law Charles Child’s book “Roots in the Rock”, she used a stove nicknamed “John Henry”, to cook her creative dishes.
It took Eight years to complete and in 1961, after it’s rejection from publisher Houghton Mifflin, Alfred A. Knopf finally published the book. The final cookbook titled “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking” was a total of 734 pages. It became a best seller and put Julia Child on the map.
Julia Child’s career blasted off from there, as she began to write columns for the larger newspapers along with TV guest appearances which lead to Julia Child’s first television show “The French Chef”. The show first aired in February 1963, there were other cooking shows on TV at the time, but Julia’s was a huge success right from the start. Eventually running for more than ten years.
Julia Child also wrote four more books: a second from the recipes she created on the TV show “The French Chef Cookbook”. The Third book “Mastering The Art of French Cooking; Volume II” came out in 1971, co-authored by Simone Beck (Louisette Bertholle was not asked to participate as the partner was dissolved). And a fourth book that featured Paul Child’s photographs of Julia’s kitchen and recipes.
Julia Child’s mastery was viewed by millions on the TV shows of the 70’s and 80′, but didn’t stop there. She also produce a video series in 1989 called “The Way To Cook”. Julia Child’s cooking, experimentation, openness to new ideas and tools (the microwave, food processor…) and her love of cooking, inspired many of today’s fine chef’s and TV cooking shows. Her love for cooking as well as eating shone through her many cooking programs.
You may recall Julia flipping an omelet that ended up on the counter, only to pick it up and place it back in the pan stating ” just put it back in the pan if no one’s around, they’ll never know, just pat it down…”
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