Julia Child was a towering figure in American culinary culture. Known for her promotion of traditional French cuisine, Child was not only a cooking expert but also a prolific author and a beloved television personality.
Julia Child, born on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California, and passing away on August 13, 2004, in Santa Barbara, Her journey into the culinary world began post-World War II, during which she served clerical duties for the Office of Strategic Services. It was during this time that she met Paul Cushing Child, her future husband.
Marriage to Paul Cushing Child
Julia Child’s husband was Paul Cushing Child. He was born in 1902 in Montclair, New Jersey, and had a diverse and impactful career. Paul Child is best known for his significant role in the life and career of his wife, Julia Child, the famous American chef, author, and television personality who introduced French cuisine to the American public.
Paul Child was a diplomat, artist, and poet. He served in the U.S. Foreign Service, which led to his and Julia’s move to Paris, France, where she attended the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. This experience was a turning point in Julia Child’s culinary career and ultimately led to her fame as a chef.
In addition to his diplomatic work, Paul was also an accomplished artist, particularly in photography. He often photographed Julia and her culinary creations, contributing to her cookbooks and public image. His artistic skills and keen eye for aesthetics significantly influenced the visual representation of Julia’s work.
The couple married in 1946, and their relationship was known to be a strong, supportive, and loving partnership. Paul was an integral part of Julia’s success, offering support, encouragement, and collaboration throughout her career. Their story has been portrayed in various forms of media, highlighting their mutual respect and deep affection for each other. The couple did not have any children.
Paul Child passed away in 1994, but his influence on Julia Child’s life and legacy remains a significant part of her story.
Relocation to Paris
The couple’s postwar relocation to Paris was a turning point for Julia. She attended the Cordon Bleu cooking school and, along with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, founded L’École des Trois Gourmandes. Their collaboration led to the creation of the influential cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” This book, celebrated for its clarity and comprehensiveness, was aimed at the “servantless American cook,” marking a shift in American culinary practices.
Child’s television career was launched with a promotional appearance that led to her hosting “The French Chef” on Boston’s public television. This show, which aired for 206 episodes, was instrumental in popularizing French cuisine in America. Child’s approachable demeanor, humor, and encouragement, even in the face of cooking mishaps, endeared her to millions of viewers.
Julia Child also authored several influential books that reflect her deep passion for French cuisine and her television career. Each show during her television career had an accompanying book. She also co-wrote “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home” with chef Jacques Pépin. Child’s autobiography, “My Life in France,” co-written with Alex Prud’homme, was published posthumously and formed the basis of the film “Julie & Julia.”
Her notable works include:
- “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”: This seminal work, co-authored with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, brought French cuisine to American homes. Its two volumes were released in 1961 and 1970.
- “The French Chef Cookbook”: A collection of recipes demonstrated on her television show “The French Chef.”
- “From Julia Child’s Kitchen”: Illustrated with her husband’s photographs, this book documents the color series of “The French Chef” and includes extensive kitchen notes.
- “Julia Child & More Company”: This book won her a National Book Award in the Current Interest category in 1979.
- “The Way To Cook” (1989): Child considered this work, accompanied by an instructional video series, her magnum opus.
Her influence expanded through numerous influential television series with each contributing uniquely to the culinary landscape. Here’s an overview of her key TV shows:
- The French Chef: This was Julia Child’s first and perhaps most influential TV series, where she introduced French cuisine to a wide American audience.
- Julia Child: Bon Appétit: Another one of her TV appearances, though details about the content and impact of this show are not readily available.
- Julia Child & Company: This series continued her exploration and teaching of cooking, building on the foundation she established in her earlier shows.
- Julia Child & More Company: As a sequel to the previous series, this show likely expanded on the themes and cooking styles Julia Child was known for.
- Dinner at Julia’s: This series is another iteration of her culinary shows, focusing on various aspects of cooking and dining.
- Cooking with Master Chefs: In this series, Julia Child likely shared the screen with other renowned chefs, focusing on a variety of culinary techniques and recipes.
- In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs: Similar to “Cooking with Master Chefs,” this series probably involved collaborations with other culinary experts.
- Baking with Julia: This show would have focused specifically on baking, showcasing Child’s skills and knowledge in this area of cooking.
- Julia Child & Jacques Pépin Cooking at Home: A collaboration with chef Jacques Pépin, this series likely featured a more intimate setting, focusing on home cooking techniques.