When we first heard about Julia Child’s Provence cottage going up for rent on Airbnb, the news certainly spawned a few days of vacation daydreaming. Rosanna Pansino, however, made that dream a reality. The author and host of the popular YouTube series “Nerdy Nummies” spent a week in the south of France taking a break from her usual pop-culture goodies (like a Death Star cake and Tetris Tater Tots) to soak in some of the air and influence of one of America’s most beloved chefs. And it makes sense the two should cross paths (even if posthumously for Child), because just as Julia’s presence on America’s televisions introduced French cooking techniques to a new audience, so too are YouTube personalities like Pansino bringing the joys of making food to a new generation. Pansino filled FWx in on what it was like to walk in Child’s shoes and how she turns nerding out into nummie treats.
Why did you decide to take this trip to France and rent Julia’s house?
I heard about being able to rent Julia Child's cottage right after it was first announced. I am not a very impulsive person but as soon as I saw the announcement tweet on People Magazine's Twitter I immediately booked the trip. Julia Child is one of my biggest role models and cooking in her kitchen was a dream come true.
What is your connection to Julia? Did you watch her growing up?
I didn't have a TV growing up, but my parents had her cookbook. Many of my best early childhood memories are spending time in the kitchen with my parents and grandmother. I have always been very close with my family and food was something that always brought us together.
How did you choose which recipes to work on while in Julia’s kitchen?
I knew that I wanted to make a savory dish and a sweet dish from her cookbook—the one she wrote while living in the cottage! It was a good excuse to try a bunch of recipes from her book before traveling there as well. The Pommes Anna was a simple and fun dish made even better by using fresh herbs from Julia's garden behind the cottage while the fresh Strawberry Sherbet was perfect for the summer weather.
Rosanna's take on Child's Pomme Anna recipe. © Michael Schmidt
Fresh strawberry sherbet. © Michael Schmidt
What was it like cooking in her kitchen and ingredient shopping in Provence?
Her kitchen was everything I could have expected and more. Tools hanging from her iconic pegboard made cooking quick and easy while the simple yet practical layout of the kitchen made me want to never stop cooking. The food in France is extremely fresh and easy to find. I definitely would love to visit again to try more recipes.
Related: 6 WAYS TO BECOME A BETTER COOK
Was there anything unique about Julia’s kitchen that you hope to bring back to your own?
What I liked most about her kitchen is how organized it is. The pegboard made finding all of the kitchen gadgets efficient. Julia Child also had to customize her kitchen because she was so tall. I can relate to this as I've had to customize mine because I'm so short. I loved the quaint and cozy feel of her entire cottage.
Who were the chefs that inspired you to get into cooking, and particularly to do it on YouTube?
Julia Child has been one of my role models for a long time. She was fearless in the kitchen and loved what she did. I also find myself inspired by all types of entrepreneurs, whether they are a chef or not.
You’re usually making fun pop-culture inspired treats on your YouTube page, but what’s your favorite pop-culture meal or dish to cook?
My favorite recipes that I've made are ones that have fun memories associated with them, like when I cook with my family. Making Halloween themed pizzas on The Cooking Channel with my dad, who I call Papa Pizza, is one such dish.
How do you develop recipe ideas for Nerdy Nummies?
Ideas for the show come from all over. I spend much of my week trying new things and figuring out more ways to have fun with food. I also like to make themed treats inspired by shows, movies, books and games that I am into at the time.
What’s the nerdiest thing you’ve made or wanted to make but perhaps you thought it was too nerdy?
I don't think there is such a thing as 'too' nerdy, but I will say I love to geek out on Star Trek and Harry Potter. I have never limited myself to only things I think will be the most popular but instead I like to focus on creating content I enjoy.
What item in your kitchen arsenal could you never live without?
When I make my baking videos I like to try and use the simplest tools possible, so for that reason my most used kitchen tools are things like whisks, spatulas, and rolling pins. If I had to choose something else I would definitely say my electric hand mixer.
If you could have a magic/superpower what would it be?
Good question! Aside from the normal super strength or ability to fly, I think it would be amazing to know how to speak every language. I love travelling and learning about new people and places. So if I spoke every language then I could order food in every country.