‘Julia Child Challenge’: Here’s How Food Network Brought The Late French Chef to Life

The Julia Child Challenge is a new show developed by The Food Network. It honors Julia Child‘s body of work in the culinary and social landscape. Competitors will face off against one another as they recreate several of The French Chef’s most iconic dishes. The winner receives an opportunity to live and work in France for three months as a student at Le Cordon Bleu. This is the same culinary institute where Child herself studied in the late 1940s. However, bringing the late food doyenne to life posed a challenge for the Food Network. Here’s how they made it work.

Julia Child photographed during a television appearance.
Julia Child | Bachrach/Getty Images

The premise of ‘The Julia Child Challenge’

Eight competitors, all Julia Child superfans, will share personal stories about their hero throughout the competition.

Head judge Antonia Lofaso will work alongside a rotating panel of guest judges to critique the home cooks.

Molly Baz, Stephanie Boswell, Alvin Cailan, Cliff Crooks, Susan Feniger, Dorie Greenspan, Melissa King, Nilou Motamed, Jacques Pepin, Sherry Yard, and Brooke Williamson will appear.

However, instead of just one set of judges, it will be the group that ultimately decides who wins the series grand prize.

How will the late French Chef host the show and teach the contestants?

Variety‘s story explained how Child would maintain a larger-than-life presence throughout the competition.

Lofaso will be the viable touchstone in the competition. Child serves as a host via a giant video screen in the center of the room as she instructs the contestants in basic culinary techniques.

Footage of Child from PBS’ The French Chef will play at the center of a kitchen modeled to look after her Cambridge, MA home.

President of Food Network and streaming food content at discovery+, Courtney White, explained why the series put Child front and center of the competition.

“When we got this particular pitch from 3 Arts Entertainment, it was all about bringing Julia to life,” she said.

“It felt Julia herself was in the show, that she was a guiding force. Yes, it was through the creative use of footage — but that was just the differentiator. It needed to feel like it wasn’t going to be an archival show or people talking about and reminiscing about Julia,” White concluded.

Series host Antonia Lofaso shared her thoughts about Julia Child’s continuing culinary influence

"The Julia Child Challenge" head judge Antonia Lofaso (right) and contestant.
“The Julia Child Challenge” | Food Network/Discovery Network

Lofaso, who serves as the host in residence throughout the limited series, shared her thoughts about Child’s continuing culinary influence.

“It’s Julia Child! Lofaso said to Variety.

“When all of the home cooks, even myself, walk into the kitchen for every episode, it’s her welcoming us into the kitchen,” Lofaso continued.

“I look at my role more as the leader of the line in kindergarten. So it’s more I get to be the leader of the line, and I love it. The best part about it is where I stand — and I had this moment multiple times when I was filming — was when you see the beautiful, old-fashioned television setup with the antennas. Julia Child is just smiling ear to ear, like wielding a sword and chickens in front of her. Then I’m standing next to her, coupled with generations of incredible guest judges,” she concluded.

The Julia Child Challenge airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on The Food Network.

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