What defines a chef? Julia Child wasn’t a French Chef, yet Julia Child Created this Profession of a TV Chef. Growing up in Brazil during the 80s and 90s, I’ve never heard of her. As soon as I moved to New York City in the late 1990s, Julia Child was a name I heard daily in school as a culinary student at the French Culinary Institute (see more below).
As I delved deep into this profession, I bought some of Julia Child’s cookbooks and cooked many of her recipes. But it wasn’t until I watched the new TV series “Julia,” now airing on HBO Max, that I fell completely in love with Julia Child.
English actress Sarah Lancashire does an incredible job playing Julia. I’ve seen clips of Julia’s original series produced and broadcasted by WGBH, the public television station in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1963 to 1973. Her high-pitched voice was such a trademark, and her love of cooking was so inspiring that it changed America.
Mrs. Lancashire captured the essence of Julia, along with the directors, producers, and the entire team working on this TV series.
Applause to them!
In one episode of the early episodes, producer Alice Naman, played by actress Brittany Bradford is selling The French Chef to other public TV stations. On the other side of the phone, they all asked:
“Is Julia Child French?”
“No,” said Alison, the producer.
Indeed, Julia Child wasn’t French, yet the name of her original series was precisely that: The French Chef. She was so ahead of her time. I wish I could ask her. “Julia, what defines a chef today?”
Is a cookbook author also a chef? Is a food stylist a chef? Was I a chef when I worked as a line cook in restaurants? Am I still a chef if I no longer work in a restaurant? Do I still want to be a chef?
And what is a chef’s relationship to the world around him/her? Is there a line between who he/she is as a creator? All of us who are artists, recipe creators, digital creators, and who chronicle our creations have asked these questions ourselves. Not only in the past but especially now. In my own creative life, I have constantly been questioning myself: who am I?
There is no one answer to these questions. They all demand a continual honing, shaping, burrowing, a never-ending pursuit of the fundamental skill. This profession requires us to become an explorer, forever hacking our way through various ingredients, places, cultures, palates, food techniques—and now, technology. Food, media, communication, and technology— all have merged.
The pursuit remains the same, but the work itself finds different forms of expression each time. And quite often, there is a chef whose very practice involves breaking his/her role as a chef. Maybe I’m one of them.
To that end, there are many chefs-turned-influencers, who stepped away from their kitchens to find balance in life in different ways. Chefs from all walks of life are trying to ensure that the cooking industry makes room for them.
What all these chefs, cookbook authors, food stylists, influencers, and digital creators have in common, though is the belief, that a fundamental part of making art—or cooking—is an engagement with the greater world. Our conversation with the culture is what changes—and changes all of us who encounter it as well. No matter how we ask the question, we are always asking it; and in doing so, we invite you to ask as well.
Between the profession that Julia Child created, the rise of the Food Network, social media, Instagram, Tik Tok, and the advancement of technology, the food world is constantly evolving, along with music, movies, and other forms of creative arts.
To honor this TV series and honor Julia Child, and one of the most delicious chocolate cakes you’ll ever taste, I prepared my adapted version of Julia Child’s famous Reine de Saba Chocolate cake (also known as Queen of Sheba Cake).
She brings this cake to her producers during her pitch meeting for the TV Series. In the next post, I bring it to you. Oh yes, there are videos too, for the cake and almonds.
Julia Child Created This Profession and she garnished her cake with a few slivered almonds. I garnish with lots and lots of almonds. In fact, I created this Candied Almond recipe to go along with this chocolate cake.
Click here for the Chocolate Almond Cake Julia Child VIDEO
Click here for the Candied Almonds VIDEO
Click here for the Chocolate Almond Cake Julia Child RECIPE
Click here for the Candied Almonds RECIPE
About The French Culinary Institute
The French Culinary Institute was a cooking school in New York City founded by Dorothy Cann Hamilton in 1984. The International Culinary Center (ICC), formerly The French Culinary Institute (FCI), is no longer enrolling students. Mrs. Hamilton died in a car crash in 2016 at the young age of 67. In 2020, the school merged into the Institute of Culinary Education with campuses in New York and California.
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