Wednesday, August 15, marks the 106th anniversary of the birth of one of America’s foremost TV Chef’s, author and culinary personality, Julia Child, who took her last kitchen bow in 2004 at the age of 92.
Before there was a “Food Network”, the first to try his hand at TV food stardom was the father of American cuisine himself, James Beard. Unfortunately for James, his “I Like to Eat” show was not only a boring title but just when women were looking to get OUT of the kitchen, he somehow seemed to reinforce the notion that real cooking was real work (albeit worth it).
Not exactly good timing.
On the other hand, Julia, along with other’s like the Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr and Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith set out to show us all that cooking didn’t have to bland, boring, difficult or a chore but that it could be tasty, fun, easy, and rewarding. Moreover, you didn’t really need to have classic training or exceptional skills to cook a satisfying meal. In just 30 minutes (minus commercials) you could actually learn the “secrets of the pros”….well,…kind of.
Or…what the heck, just buy their book.
It may seem like celebrity Chef’s are a modern phenomenon, in truth, there have been Chefs whose celebrity (both among both the masses AND the classes,) went well beyond anything Emeril, Mario or Gordon could have ever whipped up in their wildest culinary imaginations.
Going back as far as 16th century, the Chefs of Popes and Kings and in later centuries revered French Chefs Marie-Antoine Careme Alexis Soyer and Auguste Escoffier set the stage for the “Haute Cuisine” of the generations that followed. And although there was no TV back then, their local, national and now, international celebrity, far exceeded the real and not-so-real food stars of today.
As for me, while I occasionally watched the Food Network in its earliest years (when they actually showed you how to cook something) I’m not much of a fan of the Food Network, now.
It’s hard for me to watch. It’s like they ran out of educational material two years in. And that’s when the “circus” came to town and the Chef Clowns started piling out of the little car in center the ring and I headed for the exit.
I just can’t watch “real” reality TV, let alone culinary reality TV.
The only food celebrity I could really say I enjoyed was Anthony Bourdain. He was a wonderful writer and a genuine American story teller…and now he’s gone too.
So, I fondly look back on a time when TV in general was more educational, more innocent and genuinely more entertaining. I remember Julia Child on the 106th anniversary of her birth. Happy Birthday Julia and BON APPETITE!
I’d bake you a cake but the “Cake Bosses” can certainly handle that chore.
Want to see where Julia Child bought her cook wares when she lived in Paris? View my video below.