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Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

Published in Gourmet Live 08.15.12
We're celebrating the chef and author's 100th birthday with vintage videos, French recipes, remembrances, and much more
Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

Julia Child would have turned 100 this August 15. And though she passed away in 2004, in so many ways she never gets old: Her down-to-earth teaching techniques, her zest for life in all its buttery, messy goodness, and her humor are timeless.

We never tire of watching the woman who inspired many of us to become crazy about cooking, so we're kicking off our tribute with a video of Julia Child and her pal Jacques Pépin prepping soufflés, whacking open an ostrich egg to make a prodigious omelet, and bantering about nutrition versus taste (if you don't happen to know which side Julia invariably was on, this footage is a must-see). Don't miss these two generally hamming it up in handpicked scenes from the 1999–2000 PBS television series Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home—and if you want to see more, you can order them at ALaCarte.tv.

Child, who stood over 6 feet tall and had famously large hands, made a big—and warm—impression on most who met her, including former Gourmet magazine food editor Sally Darr, who went on to open a French restaurant in New York City, La Tulipe, in the late '70s. Julia made an impromptu visit to La Tulipe's kitchen one night, sparking a food-filled friendship that Darr recounts here. Two of Darr's recipes—the Chicken Roasted with Garlic Cloves that first sent Julia through the swinging doors with compliments for the chef, along with a Provençal Soupe au Pistou—accompany the article.

For more recollections of the French Chef, we offer a gem from Gourmet's archive, The Accidental Purist, a fascinating September 2003 profile by Joe Dolce that vividly captures Julia's immortal charms, her impact on culinary culture, and her own perspective in later life.

Read on for 10 Questions for the Smithsonian Curators Who Cooked Up Julia Child's Kitchen Exhibit. This favorite at the National Museum of American History will again be on view from August 15 to September 3, to coincide with the chef's centennial, then closed until November, when it returns as the centerpiece of a major new installation, Food: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000. The NMAH's Paula Johnson and Rayna Green worked closely with Child before the kitchen exhibit first opened in 2002; in our interview, they recount the process of acquiring, moving, and installing Julia's Cambridge, Massachusetts, kitchen, in Washington, D.C. They also share their thoughts about Julia's place in the food pantheon and in the hearts of Smithsonian visitors of all sorts.

While Julia Child taught us that we can conquer sometimes-complicated French recipes, there are those Monday-to-Friday moments when you just need something fast. And happily, simple can even be the best way of preparing many foods. For quick, delicious meals, dig into our hardcover book Gourmet Weekday: All-Time Favorite Recipes. From the hundreds of effortless dishes published in Gourmet over the years, this compilation features editors' best-loved selections, including seafood dishes that are ready in minutes, such as Seared Scallops with Tarragon-Butter Sauce; quick-cooking favorites like Deviled Chicken Drumsticks; and for dessert, Chocolate Fallen Soufflé Cake.

What's your favorite Julia Child memory or recipe? Share it via Twitter or Facebook, drop us a line, or post a comment on our blog. For more tasty bites, sign up for our weekly newsletter to get convenient access to our most-read blog posts, editors' favorite recipes, and exclusive reader offers.

Here's to the next century of Julia Child!

The editors of Gourmet Live

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