Julia Child is credited by many with bringing French cooking into American homes through her memorable television programmes and ground breaking book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
As Le Cordon Bleu celebrates Child’s 100th birthday on August 15, we remember how our former student from the Paris school helped change the way American households cooked.
Raised in Pasadena, California, Child worked in a series of uninspiring jobs after leaving college before a career change with what is now the Central Intelligence Agency took her to Sri Lanka. Here she married artist and diplomat Paul Child and relocated to Paris, a move that would put her on the path to becoming a household name in the US.
Child enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu Paris in 1950 with finance from the G.I Bill, which paid tuition fees for former service members returning from WWII. She earned our Diplôme de Cuisine in 1951. It was after her time at the Paris school that Child began work on Mastering the Art of French Cooking with two French colleagues. The pioneering book presented food in a new way for its American audience, providing a step-by-step guide to each recipe and resisting the trend at the time to promote convenience cooking.
When Child began presenting The French Chef in 1963, her popularity and influence began to grow. She was now in front of a national audience, helping to change attitudes and teach people to approach food in a practical manner. Between 1970 and 2000, Child continued to author cookbooks and present popular cookery television programmes, winning various awards for her work. In 1981, Child co-founded The American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF), a non-profit organisation that works to advance the understanding and appreciation of gastronomy to this day. Child’s legacy was celebrated in the 2009 hit film Julie and Julia, based on a book by Julie Powell who blogged about her experiences cooking Child’s recipes.
Julia Child will always be remembered for her passion for French cuisine and dedication to passing on an appreciation and respect for fine food. She retired to California in 2001 and passed away in 2004, but her teachings remain as relevant and influential today as they did decades ago.