Even the Kitchen Sink; the Smithsonian Is Cooking Up a Savory Display of One of America's Culinary Stars. (History)

Article excerpt

Joe Criste and Rob Barrett have made a mess in Julia Child's kitchen. The two exhibit specialists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History have torn apart--very delicately--the 89-year-old chef's famous kitchen at her old house in Cambridge, Mass. Now they are beginning to put it back together for an exhibit in Washington.

It's Barrett's and Criste's job to re-create the 14-by-20-foot kitchen where Child became an American cooking icon for an 18-month exhibit that opens at the American History museum on Aug. 19. The opening is planned to coincide with the chef's 90th birthday on Aug. 15.

Child donated the contents of this customized kitchen, including measuring cups, pots and her six-burner Garland commercial range. Even the PegBoards that held dozens of kitchen supplies will be part of the exhibit. The PegBoards, now leaning up against the walls in the Smithsonian basement, have hand-drawn outlines of utensils, which Child provided as an aid for her many guest chefs.

Because the project is an historic restoration, Barrett and Criste can't cut, saw, break off, repaint or change any of the original pieces in the more than 40-year-old kitchen. "If anything doesn't fit, we need to reproduce it" Criste says. …