Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

High-Spirited Chef Turned Art of French Cuisine into Prime-Time Entertainment and Taught Us to Cook and to Eat for 40 Years; She Changed the Way We Viewed Food

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

High-Spirited Chef Turned Art of French Cuisine into Prime-Time Entertainment and Taught Us to Cook and to Eat for 40 Years; She Changed the Way We Viewed Food

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Macdonald, Times-Union food editor

She was known as The French Chef. However, she was neither French nor a chef.

Julia Child was an American, schooled in French cooking, who brought her passion for food to America and changed the way this country eats and thinks about food.

The way Julia Child became a national treasure is more happenstance than plan. After attending the French cooking school Cordon Bleu, she teamed with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to write the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The women worked 10 years on the book, testing and retesting recipes. She often said, "A cookbook is only as good as its poorest recipe."

It was while promoting the book and giving a cooking demonstration on television that she captivated an audience. This tall woman with the warbling voice had fun and made fun of herself. She was a delight to watch. And if you watched you might just learn something.

Like many who watched her over the years, I have never cooked a single one of her recipes. But without her, I wouldn't know a thing about food. It is because of Child that a portion of America learned to live to eat, rather than just eat to live.

I learned to cook for the most part from the Food Network. Techniques, tips and recipes shown on shows like Emeril Live, Molto Mario, Good Eats and even 30 Minute Meals have been my culinary school. Without Julia Child, there would be no Food Network. Had the experiment on PBS station WGBH in Boston never been tried, cooking shows would probably be as dry as one of those junior college algebra classes shown on public access cable. Those programs do teach, but they haven't launched the Algebra Network.

During and after the run of her landmark program, The French Chef, Child continued to author cookbooks and magazine articles. And she did more television. Her final program may have been my favorite. Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home paired Child with her longtime friend and colleague Jacques Pepin. With his thick French accent and her aging voice, it was sometimes hard to understand what they were saying. There's really no need. …

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