Julia Child’s Surprisingly Simple Favorite Lunch Calls For 1 Very Specific Ingredient

More than 15 years after her death, culinary legend Julia Child is still a major influence on home cooks across America. Known as the first celebrity TV chef, Child introduced French cooking techniques to an American audience.

Julia Child
Julia Child | John Dominis/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

Child’s cookbooks aren’t for the kitchen novice. But when it comes to her recipe for her favorite “working lunch,” it’s a simple dish that anyone can make as long as they have one specific ingredient.

Julia Child shared her ‘Kitchen Wisdom’ before her death

Child published her final cookbook just four years before her death in 2004. Titled Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes From a Lifetime of Cooking, she described it as “a mini aide-mémoire for general home cookery.”

At the time, Child was 87 years old, and she based her final book on her own “loose-leaf kitchen reference guide gradually compiled from my own trials, remedies, and errors – corrected as I’ve cooked my way through the years.”

In addition to her classic recipes, Epicurous notes that Child shared her signature kitchen tips that any aspiring home chef can use. For example, she shared her method for cleaning a burn-blackened pan, which included baking soda and an overnight soak.

Child also gave her advice for buying and storing eggs, a simple system for sautéing clarified butter, the proper way to handle garlic, and the best wine for cooking. Schitt’s Creek’s David and Moira Rose could have also benefited from Child’s tips on how to “fold in the cheese,” or any other food that needs to be folded.

The celebrity chef didn’t find cooking success until later in life

As The Today Show points out, Child was a late bloomer. She didn’t even learn how to cook until she was in her early 30s. Her experiences in the kitchen were full of trial and error. It took her nine years of research and recipe tasting to write her first book. And, she didn’t land her first TV show until after she turned 50.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude,” she once said.

RELATED: Julia Child’s Thanksgiving Table Always Had 1 Surprising Store-Bought Snack

Her first on-air cooking demo was on WGBH in Boston in the early 1960s. She was on tour promoting her career-defining book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she switched up a segment called “I’ve Been Reading.”

Up until Child’s appearance, the segment was all about traditional literature. But when they featured Child’s cookbook, she cooked an omelet on camera.

“I thought to myself, ‘Who is this madwoman cooking an omelet on a book-review program?'” Russell Morash, her producer, told The New York Times in 2004.

Julia Child loved using butter and a specific brand of mayonnaise in her cooking

Child enjoyed delicious, rich food throughout her life. She died just days before her 92nd birthday, and her secret to healthy living was to keep things in moderation.

“I don’t consider vegetarianism a sensible diet at all, because you’re supposed to have a little bit of everything. How about red meat? Which I believe in.” Child explained in 2001. “As I’ve often said, red meat and gin.”

She did use an insane amount of butter in her cooking. According to PBS, during four seasons of Baking with Julia between 1996 and 1999, Child used a whopping 753 pounds of butter. The legendary chef also loved a specific brand of mayonnaise, which she named in her recipe for her “favorite working lunch” – tuna salad.

According to The Kitchn, Child’s ingredients for her tuna salad recipe include canned, oil-packed tuna, chopped celery, cornichons, capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley or chives, and Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Not just any mayo, but Hellman’s mayo. Sorry, Duke’s lovers!