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Julia Child | Pioneer of French Cuisine in America



Julia Child
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Julia Child was a cooking teacher, author, and television personality. She is famous for promoting French cuisine in the United States through TV shows. Julia is one of the best-selling cookbook authors of the era. Born in Pasadena, California, Julia revolutionized the traditional French cuisine in America with her endearing personality and easy cooking methods. Throughout her life, she achieved several accolades for contributing to the food world. 


Julia Child gained prominence during the 60s with cooking shows. In 2009, Nora Ephron, an American writer, journalist, and filmmaker, directed a biographical comedy-drama film, Julie & Julia. The movie revolved around Julia’s early culinary career and author Julie Powell’s experiences while cooking Julia’s recipes. The world got to know Julia better after the film. Julia emerged as a pioneer of French cooking through TV shows and cookbooks. She is one of the most prominent stars in the culinary world. 

Early Life

On the 15th of August 1912, Julia Carolyn McWilliams was born in Pasadena, California, USA. Her father, John McWilliams Jr., was a land manager and banker. In contrast, her mother, Julia Carolyn Weston, owned a paper company she inherited from her parents. Julia had two younger siblings, John McWilliams and Dorothy Cousins. For schooling, she attended the Polytechnic School in Pasadena, California. Julia’s family had a tradition of sending kids to boarding schools. As a result, when Julia completed her primary school studies, her parents sent her to a boarding school. Julia attended the Katherine Branson School in Marin County, California, for high school. She attended French, Latin, History, and Mathematics classes. Julia was 6 feet and 2 inches tall. She naturally joined the high school’s basketball team. She was not academically driven but loved playing outdoor sports. Some of them were tennis, golf, and swimming. 

After completing her studies at the Katherine Branson School, she attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. At college, Julia studied history. In 1934, Julia returned to California after graduating with a major in History. But, she moved back to Massachusetts after a year to take a secretarial course. Within a month of training, Julia landed a job in the advertising department of W. & J. Sloane. It was a famous luxury furniture store in New York City. Julia worked there as a copywriter until 1939. During wartime, Julia applied to WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and WACs (Women’s Army Corps). However, the organizations rejected her due to her height. Julia wanted to help the nation during the Second World War. As a result, she moved to Washington, D.C., to join the war effort. Later, she began working as a research assistant at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

Beginning of Culinary Journey

After working with OSS for a year, Julia became an assistant to ESRES’s (Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section) shark repellent developers. Consequently, they posted Julia to Kandy, Sri Lanka, to help with the shark repellent project. Later, they assigned her to Kunming, China. After serving the nation during wartime, Julia returned to the States. While in Kandy, she met Paul Cushing Child, a fellow OSS employee. The two married in 1946 in Lumberville, Pennsylvania. Two years later, the United States Information Agency assigned Paul to Paris. Consequently, the couple moved to Paris, France. Upon moving, Paul introduced Julia to fine French cuisine. Julia fell in love with the culinary world of France. As a result, she enrolled at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. Simultaneously, she met two French cooking teachers. They were writing a French cookbook for Americans. 

Initial Years

Simone Beck, one of the authors, wanted Julia to be a part of the French cookbook. Julia agreed, and Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle launched Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book gained recognition among Americans. Consequently, Julia’s culinary journey began on a high note. For over a decade, Julia traveled across Europe with Simone and Louisette. They researched French cuisine and made it accessible to Americans. During the early 1960s, Julia returned to her home country. 

Pathway to Success

Upon returning, television executives approached Julia to host cooking shows. They wanted her to begin a TV series based on her cookbook. Consequently, Julia created and hosted The French Chef. Its first episode aired on the 11th of February 1963. The show was a massive hit. It ran for over a decade. Through The French Chef, Julia earned worldwide recognition. It acquired several accolades. During the 70s and 80s, Julia appeared on various cooking shows. Throughout her career, she wrote sixteen successful cookbooks. Moreover, Julia was deeply involved in philanthropic works. Her cooking techniques revolutionized the way Americans made food. To date, her recipes and legacy continue to inspire millions. 

Also read: Sanjeev Kapoor | Recipe of success journey as a celebrity chef and entrepreneur

How old was Julia Child when she died?

Julia Child was 91 years old at the time of death. She was born on the 15th of August 1912 in Pasadena, California, USA. She passed away on the 13th of August 2004 in Montecito, California. Julia was a cancer survivor. Later, she succumbed to kidney failure.

What is the net worth of Julia Child?

Julia Child’s net worth is estimated to be $50 million. She began her culinary journey during the 1950s. For over four decades, she created and hosted several successful cooking shows. She wrote 16 cookbooks. Her unique way of cooking and delectable recipes made her a global icon. 

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