RACHEL BELLE

Julia Child’s pop culture resurgence is feeding a new generation of pandemic-era home cooks

Apr 20, 2022, 4:54 PM | Updated: Apr 21, 2022, 10:09 am
Sarah Lancashire plays Julia Child in the new HBO MAX show, Julia. (Seacia Pavao/HBO Max)...
Sarah Lancashire plays Julia Child in the new HBO MAX show, Julia. (Seacia Pavao/HBO Max)
(Seacia Pavao/HBO Max)

A couple of months ago, I started getting press releases for several new books and TV shows, all revolving around the same famous American chef: Julia Child.

In late November I watched a new documentary called Julia. Last month The Food Network launched a cooking competition show called The Julia Child Challenge, featuring eight home cooks and Child’s recipes. There’s a new non-fiction book called Warming Up Julia Child by Helen Horowitz, and a few weeks ago HBO Max released a show called Julia, a dramatization of Julia Child’s life in the 1960s starring Sarah Lancashire, David Hyde Pierce, and Isabella Rossellini.

“[The show focuses on the time] when she invented food television, where the roles in her marriage were flipped. It felt like a really exciting second act story,” said executive producer and creator Daniel Goldfarb, who also wrote and produced The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Julia Child is a celebrated American icon, but I wondered why so many projects are happening all at once.

“We just came out of a couple of years where a lot of people were spending a lot of time at home,” said Goldfarb. “The idea of cooking to take you to new places and connect with people and the joy of eating good food. I think, also, we’re in a moment in time where Julia’s optimism and Julia’s joie de vivre and Julia’s unsinkableness is really inspiring.”

Horowitz’s book centers on Child, but highlights the six most influential people in her career, including her adoring husband, Paul Child.

“The one thing that I came away with is Paul’s incredible helpfulness,” Horowitz said. “He encouraged her at every step of the way. He talks about what his role is on [Julia’s TV show] The French Chef and his role is completely behind the scenes. He helps shop for the show, he hauls the materials, he cleans up after the show, does all the washing. And he never seemed jealous at all. He seemed grateful for the opportunity.”

She says the timing of her book was purely a coincidence. As for the serendipity of so many projects being released at the same time,

“It might have to do with the pandemic,” Horowitz. “All of us were trapped in our homes, but you had a lot of time. I think that’s part of it. People dusted off their books and said, ‘I want to try that.'”

The book she’s referring to is Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Child’s first cookbook, released in 1961 when she was 49 years old. The book launched her career and is still one of the best-selling cookbooks of all time. It’s what food stylist Christine Tobin referenced when she cooked all the food you see on HBO’s Julia. Food was such a huge part of the production that they built her a fully operational kitchen adjacent to the set, so she could pull steaming dishes from the oven and immediately run them out to the set for filming.

“In episode three, the burgers studded with butter are just luscious,” said Tobin, who is based in Boston just like Child was. “We see Julia’s roast chicken and croutons, which is one of my favorites.”

Tobin says she doesn’t use old Hollywood styling tricks; all of the food on set was delicious, high quality, and happily consumed by the cast and crew between takes.

“Not one thing is fake,” said Tobin. “Everyone asks me that. Everything was her recipes and fresh, and I was so lucky to have markets that I was able to visit that were actually some of Julia’s favorite markets. It was really wonderful.”

Today’s media landscape is flooded with cooking shows and competitions, food podcasts (ahem!), and cooking influencers on Instagram. But hopefully, all of this new Julia Child programming will keep America’s original, and beloved, celebrity chef relevant to younger generations.

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal.” Follow @yourlastmealpodcast on Instagram!

  • listen to rachel belleTune in to KIRO Newsradio on weekdays to hear Rachel Belle.
Who is Rachel Belle?

Your Last Meal

Rachel Belle

Owner Sophia Walker believes in fitness AND doughnuts. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Walker)...
Rachel Belle

Seattle’s No Judgement Fitness is a safe space for the LGBTQ community to workout

No Judgement Fitness is mirror free and focuses on body positivity, not weight loss. 
3 days ago
(Brooke Lark/Unsplash)...
Rachel Belle

New LinkedIn data shows more women are promoted to manager in Seattle than any other city

Women in Seattle are 80% more likely than the national average to advance to manager. 
5 days ago
Marsha and Matt Owen opened Skein & Tipple, in Clinton, last Tuesday. (Photo by Rachel Belle)...
Rachel Belle

Skein and Tipple: Whidbey Island’s newest craft cocktail bar is also a yarn store

Yarn up front, cocktails in back! When the liquor control board told the owners they must have live entertainment, they cooked up Tuesday Knit Night. 
10 days ago
Irene Crawford (left) looks at Beatles memorabilia in her little sister Barbara Horn’s scrapbook....
Rachel Belle

Seattle sisters saw the Beatles in 1964, return to the same venue tonight to see Paul McCartney

Barbara Horn and Irene Crawford reminisce about seeing Beatles at Seattle Center in 1964.
13 days ago
(Photo by Ingrid Barrentine, courtesy of Alaska Airlines)...
Rachel Belle

Alaska Airlines is the first US carrier to introduce gender neutral uniforms

Alaska Airlines' new policy gives also all employees permission to wear makeup, earrings, fingernail polish, and gender-neutral uniforms.
19 days ago
(Palle Knudsen / Unsplash)...
Rachel Belle

Fewer pills, more parks: More doctors are prescribing nature to patients

Non-profit programs in the US and Canada encourage doctors to sign on and prescribe their patients time spent outside or, for some, more time at a sunny window. 
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Julia Child’s pop culture resurgence is feeding a new generation of pandemic-era home cooks