Celebrating a Culinary Legend
Wednesday, August 15th was the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of America’s most celebrated and earliest celebrity chefs: Julia Child. After making her television debut on PBS as part of a local Boston program, Child’s fearless, no-fuss style of cooking brought French haute cuisine to the everyday home cook. The statuesque lady with the iconic warble in her voice was, herself, classically trained at the Cordon Bleu in France. While there, she became friends and partners with two women to create her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was, and still remains, one of the most highly revered French cook books on the market.
Outside of her warm and welcoming personality that communicated so well across the television, Julia Child was not a perfect chef. She made mistakes on camera and by handling them with aplomb, she was able to laugh at herself and at the same time allow home cooks the ability to feel as though they may be able to handle these serious dishes in their own kitchens. She made a foreign cuisine approachable and attainable for American home cooks.
Part of her appealing demeanor was in the uniform, or perhaps, lack of one that she wore on her show The French Chef. While it is safe to say that during her time attending cooking school in France, Julia may have worn the traditional chef’s uniform, she eschewed the formal culinary attire for the purposes of her television show. She did however keep the insignia of her first culinary success with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The insignia from the Paris cooking school called L’Ecole des Trois Gourmandes decorated her blouse on every episode of her acclaimed and Emmy award winning show.
Today it is fairly simple to break cooking shows into categories of trained home cooks and professional chefs. In large part, one of the easiest ways to spot this is that professional chefs, particularly those that take part in cooking competition shows, will wear traditional chef’s uniforms. The toque (or chef’s hat) may have been replaced with a bandana or other types of head gear, but the jacket and pants are commonly used culinary attire.
If you’re a fan of modern cooking shows you can thank Julia Child for the inspiration she provided to a number of these television chefs.
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