Culinary queen Julia Child (1912-2004) was born Julia McWilliams on this day in Pasadena, California. Raised on "so-so cooking," she was a Smith College graduate who discovered her passion for cooking while living in France. Child demystified cuisine with wit, aplomb, and knowledge.
"My idea is if you read one of my recipes, you really know how to do it," she said. "People said that there is no such profession as gastronomy. I proved that there is."
She collaborated with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to write the classic book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961), which celebrated traditional French techniques and revolutionized cooking styles.
"Any literate person with a reasonable amount of manual dexterity can concoct praiseworthy French meals," explained the 6-foot-2 dynamo. "The whole idea was to take French cooking out of cookoo land."
Child's book inspired the 1963 groundbreaking PBS television series The French Chef, taught millions to cook and continued with 206 episodes. With Julia, hands-on cooking became creative, fun, and a celebration. "Life itself is the proper binge," she said.
For over 40 years she taught the world to cook. In November 2000, she received France’s highest honor, the Legion d'Honneur. Harvard has her cookbooks and the Smithsonian Institute has her kitchen.
"Cooking is my profession and my pleasure. I do all my own cooking, and I love to do it," said Child who co-founded San Francisco's American Institute of Wine and Food (1981) and New York's James Beard Foundation (1986). In 2008, previously classified documents revealed she was a spy for her country during World War II.
"My celebrity may disappear, but that's part of the business. As they say, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."
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