Thanks to the release of the new film Julie & Julia chefs from all over the world are sharing memories of the beloved Julia Child. Before Emerill shouted his first 'BAM!' and before Alice Waters and Michael Pollen advocated for locally produced food, Julia was teaching Americans how to make simple yet amazing meals. She shared her unbridled passion for butter and all things exoticly French to an audience whom many had not the first clue as to what a burre blanc sauce was. What made Julia so appealing? Well, I think a lot has to do with her approachability. She never talked down to her audience, she just wanted them to share her joy in this new discovery...incredible food. She adored good food made with the best ingredients that could be found, her enthusiasm was infectious.
My experience with Julia was not on the first PBS series, but on a later series with her and Jacques Pepin. The series was a hoot, and the ease in which they cooked together was something I had to accomplish. By watching them cook, with what appeared to be such simple techniques, my interest in food was born. I immediately felt a bond with Julia. We were both the same height, started our second careers later in life, and considered butter the best ingredient in the world. I devoured her books like novels, my favorite was the Baking with Julia and a little pocket book with the wisdom of Julia Child, sharing simple recipes for the best quiche and roasted chicken. She taught me how to scramble an egg perfectly and to make my first batch of almond ccroissants. The culinary community embraced her, and with her style, wisdom, and simplicity, she broke down many of the barriers for women to enter the predominately male dominated land of the culinary field.
The highest culinary compliment I ever received was from Sedge Thompson on West Coast Live. A few years ago, when my bakery, Rene-Joule Patisserie was open and thriving in downtown Redding, West Coast Live recorded their show at the historic Cascade Theatre . We were lucky enough to provide the touring performers food prior to their shows. In the middle of the show Sedge gave a shout out to me, all the butter, and called me Reddings Julia Child. I wanted to cry, well, actually I did. That is truly my favorite memory of owning my shop, being compared, for just a moment, to the great and amazing Julia.