This week on Wednesday, August 15th, "chef extraordinaire" Julia Child would have celebrated her 100th birthday. She died eight years ago.
To observe the centenary of her birth, local restaurants and eateries throughout the country are serving dishes based on or prepared from her recipes.
Among the events being held on Wednesday to honor her will be:
- The release by Knopf Publishers of "Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child," a biography written by Bob Spitz (who is also the author of "The Beatles").
- The hosting by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington DC of a Julia Child’s birthday party to include a sneak preview of her famous kitchen which will be a part of a new exhibition.
- Julia Child Restaurant Week, taking place throughout the country and including many restaurants in New York City. Ends on August 15 at most participating restaurants. Organized by Knopf Publishers.
Here is how some of the restaurants near and far will celebrate Julia Child's 100th birthday:
Chiboust, Tarrytown. From the cookbook entitled "Julia Child's Kitchen," chef/owner Jill Rose has selected two dishes: Crevettes a la Grecque (shrimp simmered with onions, oil, lemon and herbs) and Trouites Buerre Francoise (trout filletes with a creamed butter sauce and a bit of sorrell).
Maud's Tavern, Hastings on Hudson. "We'll offer specials like Coq au Vin (Child's famous chicken cooked-with-wine dish) and such," says chef/owner Maud Tucker. "My beef stew is based on Boeuf Bourguignon (another of Child's classics). I still stick to the basic French technique of cooking. We forget now how women were not readily accepted in professional kitchens and the bravery it took for Julia to pursue her apprenticeship in French kitchens."
Red Barn Bakery, Irvington. Chef/owner Randell Dodge plans to offer an organic wild mushroom savory tart with taragon and goat cheese. "Very French," she says.
Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Hyde Park. Each of the CIA student-staffed restaurants will prepare their own Julia Child dishes. The following represents some of the dishes to be made using recipes from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."
- A savory Pissaladière Niçoise tart
- Summer vegetable terrine with fresh goat cheese
- Classic Cherries Jubilee for two
- Crème Brûlée
- Dark chocolate mousse with whipped Crème Fraîche
Buvette Gastroteque, New York City. Chef/owner Jody Williams will offer Coq au Vin (chicken cooked with wine).
Murals on 54, Warwick Hotel, New York City. Its three-course dinner will include blinis with Crème Fraiche smoked salmon with dill, Salade Niçoise (seared tuna), Boeuf Bourguignon short ribs braised in red wine and Julia Child’s orange and almond cup cake. $38 per person plus tax and tip. Free raffle chance to win a trip to Paris for two.
powerHouse Arena, Brooklyn. Tributes will be delivered by chefs and food/restaurant writers. Also included: food, prizes, baked goods, French wine and book signing by authors.
Central Michel Richard, Washington, DC, and Las Vegas, NV. Chicken Julia with ratatouille will be featured. About 100 other dishes made from or inspired by her recipes will be served during Julia Child Restaurant Week.
CIA will also celebrate Julia Child's birthday by awarding two prizes to dinner guests with winners selected from business cards or entry cards filled out at any CIA Hyde Park campus restaurant. The prizes are a $100 CIA gift card or $100 worth of CIA cookbooks.
Highlights of Julia Child's career
Julia Child was born on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, CA; she graduated from Smith College in Northhampton, MA in 1934, served with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War Two, studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, gained fame giving cooking lessons on television beginning in 1963, and achieved still greater recognition when she co-authored the landmark culinary classic "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," in 1971.
The 2009 movie Julie and Julia, written and directed by the late Nora Ephron starred Meryl Streep as Julia and revealed Child's genius to a younger generation.
Child stood six-foot, two or three inches tall and possessed a voice of unusual and easily recognizable pitch; it was described by some as having a "warble" sound. She died on August 13, 2004, two days before her 92nd birthday.
In announcing the publication of Child's biography, Knopf Publishers (a Random House company) said, "Julia took on all the pretensions that embellished tony French cuisine and fricasseed them to a fare-thee-well, paving the way for everything that has happened since in American cooking, from TV dinners and Big Macs to sea urchin foam and the Food Channel."
Author Spitz said, "In 1992, while I was on assignment for various magazines in Italy, I got the chance to meet and travel through Sicily with Julia ... larger than life and full of all the personal traits one associates with her: straight talk, passion, encouragement, wit, and insight. I knew immediately that I would write a biography of her and received her blessing. And after her lovely memoir, "My Life in France," I recognized that the rest of her life needed to be fully captured." (This quotation was provided by Knopf Publishers.)