By: Sydnee Winston, Project Coordinator
The social media team at the National Women’s History Museum is always hungry—hungry for new and eye-opening, little-known facts about the women of this country whose ingenuity, resourcefulness and intelligence helped to build our nation.
We’re also hungry for yummy food and can frequently be seen munching on everything from mac n’ cheese to chocolaty brownies! So we came up with the brilliant idea to merge our love of all things women’s history and all things food into “Foodie Fridays”—your weekly serving of all things food history and women’s history. Hop aboard NWHM’s time machine as we uncover everything from strange mid-19th century fad diets to the most famous female chefs of the 20th century.
For our inaugural Foodie Friday post we’ve decided to highlight a classic and beloved American chef:
Julia was born on August 15, 1912 and during her lifetime, became a well-known American chef, author, and television personality. Her famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, is credited with bringing French cuisine to the American public and their kitchens. She is perhaps best known for her popular television cooking show, The French Chef, which premiered in 1963. Julia attended Smith College where she earned a B.A. in English before training at the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. She later studied privately with Max Bugnard and other master chefs. She also joined the women’s cooking club Cercle Des Gourmettes. It was there that she met Simone Beck, a French cookbook author and teacher, who was writing a French cookbook geared towards Americans. Beck and proposed that Julia work with her and Louisette Bertholle to make the book palatable to an American audience.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1961, was a best-seller and received critical acclaim. The book is today still in print and is considered an important culinary work. In 1963 Julia’s TV cooking show, The French Chef, debuted and gained immediate success. In the first episode she gave a demonstration on how to cook an omelette. (Click the video below to watch a clip)!
The show ran successfully for ten years and won a Peabody and Emmy Awards, including the first Emmy award for an educational program. Besides her excellent skills in the kitchen, Julia engaged her TV audience with her cheerful, warm and effervescent demeanor and her characteristic warbly voice.
After the show’s run, Julia continued her career on television and in the media and throughout the 1970s and 1980s, was the star of a many of shows including, Julia Child & company, Julia Child & More Company and Dinner at Julia’s.
“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
Stay tuned for next week’s Foodie Friday post. Until then…Bon Appetit!
Photo Credit: Public Domain