In Honor of Julia Child's Birthday, Here's Proof that the Chef's Legacy Is Stronger Than Ever
Julia Child needs no introduction. The legendary cookbook author and TV personality, who would have turned 106-years-old today, introduced America to French culinary techniques with her acclaimed cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Child also became one of the first-ever chefs to host a televised cooking show, making her voice one of the most recognizable in the country.
On her first cooking show after publishing her landmark book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child made cooking fun and fearless. Child’s husband took this photo at a promo shoot, which poked fun at the amount of work it took to produce the show. The tight behind-the-scenes work paved the way for how cooking shows are made today.
The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University
Throughout the years, Child’s influence has seeped from the culinary world into many other aspects of society, most notably pop culture, like when comedian Dan Aykroyd performed a hilarious parody on Saturday Night Live in 1978. More recently, Meryl Streep portrayed Child in Julie & Julia, a Nora Ephron-written movie based on a true story. (If you haven’t seen it, be prepared to come away craving butter).
Child’s impact has always been strong, and if the past year is any indication, that power won’t be wavering anytime soon. To honor the beloved chef’s birthday, here are all of the recent reasons that prove Julia Child is still an influential culinary figure:
The Courageous Cooking School at La Pitchoune carries on Child’s legacy.
Child’s former summer home in Provençal, which she and her husband, Paul, used to refer to as La Peetch, has been turned into a cooking school. The new owner, Makenna Held, bought the house with the intention of turning it into a place where people can come together over a shared love of food, and that’s exactly what it has become.
With the Julia Child Award, the Julia Child Foundation recognizes leaders in the food industry.
Since 2015, the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts has chosen a recipient for the Julia Child Award “who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America, eats, cooks, and drinks.” Along with the honor, the individual receives a $50,000 grant to a food-related non-profit of their choice. Previous winners include Jacques Pépin, Rick Bayless, and Danny Meyer, but this year the award broke out of its mold by choosing a powerful and pioneering dream team of women: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.
© McCall Magazine
Child’s Stint with the CIA might be made into a TV show.
If you didn’t know that Child’s World War II years were spent working as a typist for the Office of Strategic Services, otherwise known as the CIA’s predecessor, now you do. And if you’d want to watch a fictionalized retelling of Child’s life as an active-duty spy, you’re in luck. Join the rest of us Child-obsessives in cheering for ABC Signature to capitalize on the pilot script they bought back in 2017 for a show about just that, aptly titled Julia.
Even though some are black-and-white and all are semi-grainy, the recordings of Child’s cooking shows are as alive as ever.
From the oldest videos of Child cooking classics on The French Chef to later Baking with Julia episodes that feature contemporary food personalities like Martha Stewart and Nancy Silverton, it’s undeniable that Child’s instructive TV shows have withstood the test of time—even if you’re watching them solely for entertainment.
Child’s recipes only get better with age.
The beauty of Mastering the Art of French Cooking is that the skills and techniques necessary to complete each recipe will never go out of style. That is to say, there will always be people who want to learn the basics of cooking French food and there will always be people who turn to Child for that knowledge.
What's your favorite Julia Child recipe? Tell us by tagging us at @foodandwine.