Looking for Julia Child's biography? This sweet–and short–recap will quickly get you acquainted with this French cooking legend, from her outlandish upbringing to her rise as the Amazonian French cook. Let's begin.
Julia Child: Her Childhood When it comes to Italian cooking, many people envision Emeril Lagasse sweating over a hot skillet, throwing salt into a live flame and wowing the crowd. But when it comes to French cooking, a quieter, gentler cook comes to mind–a cook named Julia Child. Born Julia McWilliams, the heighty cook was born on August 15, 1912 in Pasadena, California to a real estate investor and a paper company heiress. Julia was as spoiled as she was rich. Her privileged lifestyle allowed her to go to a private school, and when she became of age, she attended college, a rarity for women of that time. She had no intentions of attending college to become a master chef, however. Her first passion was writing. Unfortunately, her writing was not well received. During the 1930s, she made several attempts to submit her short plays–a passion of hers–to the New Yorker, but they were never accepted. In 1941, Child decided on a different career path–a spy. She became a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services shortly thereafter, though her spy work was limited to the transfer of secret documents between government officials. Her tenure was not useless, however. In 1945, Child met her future husband, Paul Child, and married a year later in the United States.
Rise as French Chef Child's formal introduction to French cuisine did not begin until 1948, when Paul Child was sent to Paris to work for the American government. During their stay, Child became interested in French cuisine, leading to her training at the Cordon Bleu cooking school. She was clearly enchanted by the craft. Six months later, she decided to form her own cooking school, called The School of the Three Gourmands. Child created her first cookbook during this time, called Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which was a worldwide success. She became instantaneously famous. In 1962, she ran her own cooking show, called The French Chef, which was syndicated from coast to coast in the United States. During the 1970s and 1980s, she also became a regular on Good Morning America, making her an American celebrity. French cooking was no longer male-dominated–Child was dominating it with her petite, but Amazonian physique, slapping recipes down faster than she could create them. During the 1990s, Child decided to expand her cookbook empire. In 1995, she wrote the cookbook In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs. In the years that followed, she wrote Baking with Julia, Julia's Delicious Little Dinners and Julia's Casual Dinners, which were highly successful sellers. In 2000, after a 40 year career in French cooking, Child was given the honor of Legion d'Honneur by France. She enjoyed a robust life during this time, and deservedly so.
Child's Death During Child's last years, she began modifying her recipes to fit her healthier lifestyle–her health had been declining since the 1990s. However, these changes were not enough to save her. In 2004, she died from kidney failure just two days before her 92nd birthday, saddening an entire nation. Shortly after her death, her autobiography was published. To this day, many aspiring French and American cooks are still inspired by the legacy she left behind.