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Thursday, September 12, 2024

Pride in Aging: Julia Child

“To think – it has taken me 40 years to find my true passion.” – Julia Child

Julia _Child ,_1989

Julia Child, a determined chef from California, took the culinary world by storm. Throughout her life, she broke countless barriers and became one of the first women to have a cooking show on a public television channel. But what many find truly admirable about Julia Child is that she did not find success and fame until the age of 51. As she aged, her passion for cooking grew, and while other people her age began to retire, Julia’s career was just beginning. As the years flew by, Julia proved to herself and to the world that she had finally become the acclaimed chef she always knew she would be.

Julia was born in California in 1912, but it wasn’t until 1945 that she enrolled in her first culinary class at the Los Angeles Cooking School. Three years later, she was married and moved to Paris. Once in Paris, she fell in love with the city’s cuisine and enrolled at the iconic Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute. In 1950, she experienced her first of many culinary failures and did not graduate. A year later, she eventually mastered the art of French cooking and graduated.

In 1952, Julia met two French women looking for an American to help them write a French cookbook, but again, failure ensued and the book did not take off. In the meantime, Julia helped open a cooking school in Paris called L’Ecole des Trois Gourmande, where she charged just $5 a lesson. After nine years of rejection and living off a small salary, in 1961, the three women found success. They published Mastering the Art of French Cooking and with that, the Julia Child era officially began.

In 1963, Julia’s first television program, “The French Chef,” aired nationally. “The French Chef” won Julia a George Foster Peabody Award and a Primetime Emmy. Her Emmy was the first ever awarded to an educational television personality. At the age of 54, she made the cover of Time Magazine and was awarded the L’Ordre du Merite Agricole.

By age 64, Julia had written three more acclaimed books: The French Chef Cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume II and From Julia Child’s Kitchen. As a result, she received a slew of honors and awards. In 1978, Julia began filming the first of six television shows that would air on PBS. Her first show, “Julia Child and Company,” premiered when she was 66 years old. Her last show hit the airwaves in 1999, when Julia was 87. In 2000, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Julia passed away at the age of 91. Two years later, her memoir, My Life in France, was published as a final sendoff to the global, culinary sensation.

In her time, Julia published 18 cookbooks, hosted seven television series, and won three Emmys. She was awarded 10 honorary Doctorates from around the U.S. and was presented with honor and lifetime achievement awards in both America and France.

It is safe to say that the second half of Julia Child’s life was filled with success, fame, happiness, and honor. Had Julia allowed her life to slow down at age 50, the world would not have the pleasure of experiencing her unmatchable talent or taste her delectable cuisine. 

Melanie Marzillo
Research & Community Education
Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living

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