The Omelet That Put Julia Child in the Culinary Spotlight
Julia Child is a cultural cooking icon. It may be hard for fans to put their finger on exactly why Child was such a popular celebrity. But the fact that her popularity has endured long after her death is inarguable.
Child has been immortalized in American culture, and was even the subject of the film Julie & Julia in 2009, around five years after her death. But fans may be surprised to learn her popular cooking show isn’t what made her a famous celebrity chef.
Julia Child wrote a cookbook before getting her cooking show
Before there was the cooking show, there was the book. Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the book that launched Child’s career. The 1961 cookbook became a best-seller. Child had the experience to back up her recipes.
She moved to France with her husband in the late 1940s, and attended Cordon Bleu culinary school in 1948. Her training included private lessons with world-famous French chefs. After graduating from the program, she even formed her own culinary school with three fellow students.
After a decade of cooking French cuisine, Child wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She probably didn’t know that the book would kick-start a 40-year career in food television. But that’s what ended up happening. Although Child’s two colleagues from her culinary school helped her write the book, Child became the face of the project.
It was a good business decision. With Child’s promoting the book, it went on to be a best seller for five years in a row.
According to Taste of Home, one of those promotional efforts was a cooking spot on public television in 1962. Child prepared an omelet.
The omelet launched Julia Child’s career
Child had a special TV personality. Her style hasn’t yet been matched by any celebrity chef. She was down-to-earth, funny, and she connected personally with her audience.
In her short spot on public television, audiences saw that. Her omelet preparation was so popular, that the public television station in Massachusetts invited her back for a regular segment. In 1963, her iconic show, The French Chef still aired.
Although French cooking is often held up on a pedestal, Child showed America that anyone can cook delicious, high-end cuisine. Even if things don’t always go the way they want in the kitchen. Part of Child’s charm was her reaction to mistakes.
Everyone messes up, and when fans saw how lightly Child took her slip-ups, it gave them even more confidence to try her recipes. For her efforts, Child was honored with multiple awards.
Julia Child went from omelet to Emmy
In 1962, Child prepared an omelet on public television. By 1966, she was accepting her first Emmy for her show, The French Chef. She had already received the George Foster Peabody Award a year earlier, in 1965.
Although she wouldn’t win another Emmy over her career, she would be nominated for two more. Once in 1972, and again in 1994. Despite how prestigious Emmy awards may be, Child would take home higher honors thanks to her work on TV.
She was the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame. That happened in 1993, and less than 10 years later she was given another impressive honor. In 2000, she received the Legion d’Honneur, a very prestigious French award.
The kitchen where she filmed her cooking shows was added to the Smithsonian in 2002. Child would pass just two years later, in 2004.
Although she was 92, she never technically retired. Her work still lives on. In 2012, restaurants around the country added her dishes to their menus in honor of her 100th birthday.