How Julia Child Made Americans Want To Be French Chefs

By | August 14, 2020

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Author and cook Julia Child during a 'Tonight Show' segment with host Johnny Carson on March 19, 1980 -- Photo by: Gene Arias/NBCU Photo Bank .

Julia Child was one of the first TV chefs, and with her PBS show The French Chef this large woman -- standing 6'2" in flats -- with the warbly voice inspired Americans to cook better. As an American who hadn't grown up wanting to be a chef, Child felt that all it took was some information and effort, and a suburban kitchen in Peoria could turn out dishes with the taste of Paris or Provence. Child became an evangelist for French cuisine, and for Americans who were unsatisfied with the oddly-shaped, colorful, mayonnaise-drenched dishes of the '50s, classic French fare hit the spot. Child had numerous TV shows over her career, and published upwards of 20 books, none more important than the 726-page Mastering The Art Of French Cooking (1961), which was arguably the most important cookbook of the 20th century.

Julia Child Never Wanted To Be A Chef

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Source: (Pinterest)

Julia Child initially wanted to be a novelist, and when she graduated from Smith in 1934, she tried to pursue that dream with The New Yorker, but they turned her down. She got a job as a copywriter. She had no desire to be a chef, but decided to join the war effort during World War II, volunteering with the hopes of being a spy. She served in the Office of Strategic Services, managing communications, which is where she met Paul Child, a diplomat and art lover; the couple married in 1946. In 1948, they moved to Paris, where Paul introduced her to fine French cuisine. As a new bride, the first time she tried to cook for her husband, but the meal was a disaster. And so, while in France, she decided to attend Le Cordon Bleu and eventually graduated first in her class. However, she failed her first exam at Le Cordon Bleu, so she cooked the recipes again at home to learn the recipes she had failed. Her experience encapsulated her attitude, for as she said, “the only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”