"People who love to eat are always the best people."

Happy birthday Julia Child!

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Julia Child (August 15, 1912—August 13, 2004) was an American chef, author, and television icon. She is remembered as one of the first to usher French cuisine into popular American life. Her cuisine was first made famous on the television show, The French Chef and she hosted many other shows throughout her career.

Child was born in Pasadena, California to John McWilliams, Jr. and Julia Carolyn ("Caro") Weston. Her parents were wealthy, her father a land manager and her mother an heiress to a paper company. She attended boarding school at Katherine Branson School in Ross, California. At 6'2", Child was an avid athlete. She played tennis, golf, and basketball while attending Smith College in Massachusetts. She graduated in 1934.

After college, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter. In 1937, she returned home to Pasadena and wrote for several local publications and advertising agencies.

At the onset of World War II, Child attempted to enlist in the Women's Army Corps and the U.S. Navy's WAVES, but found she was too tall. She joined the Office of Strategic Services and quickly moved up the ranks as a result of her education and experience. She worked as a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division. While there, she was posted to Kandy in what is now Sri Lanka, and later, China. She received the Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service for her work.

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While in Sri Lanka (then, Ceylon), she met Paul Cushing Child, a well-traveled poet. The two were married in 1946, and frequently traveled to France. Child recalled a meal she had in Rouen, France, saying it was "an opening up of the soul and spirit for me." She went on to study at the famous Le Cordon Bleu.

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As she got more and more deeply involved in the French cooking scene, she met Simca Beck and Louisette Bertholle, two women who were writing a cookbook aimed at an American audience. She ended up working on the recipes for the book over the course of the next ten years. Finally, the 726-page Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published in 1961, and went on to become a bestseller.

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In 1962, she appeared on a book review show on the television station WGBH Boston. Viewers sent letters in asking to see more of Child, and so became the beginning of Child's famous show, The French Chef. Child's relaxed and welcoming manner made her hugely popular. The show ran for ten years and won multiple Peabody and Emmy awards.

 

 

 

Child went on to publish several more cookbooks, including The French Chef Cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two, and From Julia Child's Kitchen.

The 1970s and 1980s saw Child star in several other television programs, including Julia Child & Company, Julia Child & More Company, and Dinner at Julia's.

In 1981, she founded The American Institute of Wine & Food.

Child continued to host cooking shows throughout the 1990s, featuring many famous chefs. The kitchen she used in many of her cooking shows, designed by her husband, is now on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Friday, 15 August 2014
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