The food world had a collective freak out this spring with news that Airbnb was offering travelers the opportunity to win a stay at La Pitchoune, the cottage in Provence where Julia Child used to vacation – even running a contest with the winner getting a night at the house for free. Just don’t tell the Julia Child Foundation you’re planning on crashing there: The nonprofit organization that represents the late chef’s legacy has sued the rental company for illegally using Child’s name.
According to Reuters, on Tuesday, the Foundation filed a complaint in California Superior Court alleging that Airbnb moved forward with its contest despite the brand specifically being told it couldn’t use Child’s name or likeness. If I was them, I also would have specifically banned anyone from doing a bad Julia Child accent – not because it’s against the law, but because, at this point, it’s just hacky.
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The complaint also called out some of Airbnb’s other claims from the promotion, stating that though Child and her husband did stay at the cottage, she never owned it, making it not quite her “former home,” as well as claiming that “combing over the knick knacks in her kitchen exactly as she left them” would be nearly impossible being that she removed all her kitchen supplies when she left the rental.
The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an injunction to keep Airbnb from using Child’s name in the future. If you’re staying at an Airbnb, you may also want to avoid cooking any of Child’s recipes, you know, just in case. No one likes getting sued by a culinary arts foundation.