My love of food and cooking started at an early age. I can trace the roots back to when I was in the playpen in the family room and my mom was working on her art or in the kitchen (but not cooking). PBS was on and there was “The French Chef,” Julia Child, with her French cooking techniques and that voice, telling me over and over how to boil, blanch, and sauté. I absorbed how to boil a chicken and truss it up, or debone it. How to make Coq au Vin, and other succulent and decadent French dishes like Crepe Suzette. It would take half a lifetime to climb my way into a Classic French Restaurant as a line cook, but the love was there at age three and four.
Every week, for an hour a day I was exposed to both Julia Child and “The Galloping Gourmet,” Graham Kerr. (Why I don’t have a love of working out is a mystery, because Jack La Lane was in that mix as well). When I see reruns of “The French Chef” I get nostalgic. When Julia Child died a few years ago, a sadness lay in my heart. What she did for women in the culinary world was outstanding. She supported and loved many of us, and mentored some of the best chefs we have today.
Say “Happy Birthday” to Julia Child and remember that “The French Chef” was just the start of a long and rewarding career in her life. Delving into the history of Julia Child reveals that she was 50 years old before publishing Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I believe I owned a copy of it at one point, but only read about half of this thick book full of techniques. I remember liking the pictures.
As a chef I’m not fond of French techniques. As a woman chef I am fond of Julia Child. I watched her on the” Rosie O’Donnell Show” and just about cracked up as she took charge of Rosie and the making Crepes Suzette. O’Donnell wanted to do the work and Julia slapped her hand away, chided her, and continued cooking.
Julia Child was, and continues to be, an American gem, an iconic vision of what every chef aspires to be: confident, full of technique, laughter, and the love of food. Good wine helps.