- NAME: Julia Child
- OCCUPATION: Chef, Television Personality, Journalist
- BIRTH DATE: August 15, 1912
- DEATH DATE: August 13, 2004
- EDUCATION: Katherine Branson School for Girls, Smith College, Cordon Bleu
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Pasadena, California
- PLACE OF DEATH: Montecito, California
- Maiden Name: Julia Carolyn McWilliams
- Full Name: Julia Child
Best Known For
TV chef and author Julia Child adapted complex French cooking for everyday Americans, with her groundbreaking cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Julia Child - Legacy (1:37)
Julia Child - Mini Biography (4:11)
Author Julie Powell describes the appeal of Julia Child's cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and shares some of her favorite recipes from the book, including Julia's beef bourguignon.
Author Julie Powell talks about Julia Child's kitchen and its exhibition at the Smithsonian, as well as Julia Child's relationship with Paul Child.
Author Julie Powell talks about Julia Child's influence as a chef, her legacy as a feminist, and how she helped changed the way americans thought about food.
A short biography on Julia Child's groundbreaking cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and her television show, "The French Chef," which changed the face of cooking in America.
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While there, Julia developed a penchant for French cuisine and attended the world-famous Cordon Bleu cooking school. Following her six-month training—which included private lessons with master chef Max Bugnard—Julia banded with fellow Cordon Bleu students Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to form the cooking school L'Ecole de Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Gourmands).
With a goal of adapting sophisticated French cuisine for mainstream Americans, the trio collaborated on a two-volume cookbook. The women earned a $750 advance for the work, which they received in three payments. The original publisher rejected the manuscript, however, due to its 734-page length. Another publisher eventually accepted the 3-lb. cookbook, releasing it in September 1961 under the title Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book was considered groundbreaking, and remained the bestselling cookbook for five straight years after its publication. It has since become a standard guide for the culinary community.
Julia promoted her book on the Boston public television station near her Cambridge, Massachusetts, home. Displaying her trademark forthright manner and hearty humor, she prepared an omelet on air. The public's response was enthusiastic, generating 27 letters and countless phone calls—"a remarkable response," a station executive remembered, "given that station management occasionally wondered if 27 viewers were tuned in." She was then invited back to tape her own series on cooking for the network, initially earning $50 a show (it was later raised to $200, plus expenses).
Premiering on WGBH in 1962, The French Chef TV series, like Mastering the Art of French Cooking, succeeded in changing the way Americans related to food, while also establishing Julia as a local celebrity. Shortly thereafter, The French Chef was syndicated to 96 stations throughout America. For her efforts, Julia received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 1964 followed by an Emmy Award in 1966. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Julia made regular appearances on the ABC morning show Good Morning, America.
Child's other endeavors included the television programs Julia Child and Company (1978), Julia Child and More Company (1980), and Dinner at Julia's (1983), as well as a slew of bestselling cookbooks that covered every aspect of culinary knowledge. Her most recent cookbooks included In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs (1995), Baking with Julia (1996), Julia's Delicious Little Dinners (1998), and Julia's Casual Dinners (1999), which were all accompanied by highly rated television specials.
Not everyone was a fan, however. She was frequently criticized by letter-writing viewers for her failure to wash her hands, as well as what they believed was her poor kitchen demeanor. "You are quite a revolting chef, the way you snap bones and play with raw meats," one letter read. "I can't stand those over-sanitary people," Child said in response. Others were concerned about the high levels of fat in French cooking.
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As a nation that loves to eat, we hold food, and the people who prepare it, close to our hearts. Though Julia Child was the original celebrity chef and cookbook personality, the boom in reality TV has led to a renewed interest in all the people who turn food into art. From cooking show competitors to chefs to the stars, we love to watch these talented individuals whip up all kinds of delicious dishes. To learn more, sift through this group of Famous Chefs, which includes chocolatier Jacques Torres, classic culinarian Julia Child, gourmet guru Alton Brown, "semi-homemade" cook Sandra Lee, Gordon Ramsay, Rachael Ray and many more.
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