Julia Child as an Inspiration for Life
Sarah Platanitis says Julia’s show The French Chef was the only one that could keep her attention as a toddler. She would make “recipes” right alongside the show, even as young as three years old, experimenting with whatever ingredients she could pull from the refrigerator. As an adult living overseas in Japan, Sarah took comfort in Julia’s shows on tapas, often watching purely for the comfort during homesick spells. “I even baked mini apple pies in a fish fry oven!” laughs Sarah.
It was later in life when the movie Julie & Julia inspired Sarah to start a food blog and helped her realize her desire to become a food writer. To this day, she keeps a photograph of Julia Child in her office.
And what about young love? Jessica Harris share similar stories of finding romance in the kitchen with their boyfriends, a few recipes and Julia Child’s influence.
Jessica explains she was never much of cook and avoided the kitchen at all costs. One night, her boyfriend rented Julie & Julia and together they set out on a new cooking adventure. “Halfway through the movie, amidst the flour dough and chocolate shavings, my boyfriend dropped to one knee and proposed to me,” says Jessica. The movie created such a fond memory for her that she started watching The French Chef, became truly immersed in Julia’s life, and still draws inspiration from her to this day as she embarks on a new career in her 30s.
Jessica is nothing but impressed when it comes to Julia’s outlook on love. She shared their favorite quote from Julia on matters of the heart, “We had a happy marriage because we were together all the time. We were friends, as well as husband and wife. We just had a good time.”
Always Willing to Lend a Hand
Julia could cook, she could teach, she could inspire, she could love, and I found out she also could leave a really long lasting impression.
When John Blanchette was a college student shopping at a fish market, he “heard the voice coming from the back of the store” and realized right away who it was. Julia Child was looking square at a monk fish, exclaiming, “I’m going to turn this ugly beast into a prince on my show tonight!”
John made the decision to approach and tell her how much he enjoyed her show and asked if she needed any interns. Who would have guessed when she said, “We can always use a young man like you on the show. Come by the set and see Paul tomorrow.” He ended up working there for a long time, never forgetting her generosity. She was gracious, always inviting the crew to her house for dinner, and trying to give everyone the time of day.
“People would lose their mind around her, pulling and tugging. ‘Julia I want to tell you about my soufflé’ or ‘Julia I named my cat after you’ or ‘Julia my son wants to work with Thomas Keller can you help me?’ She was true professional and always tried to answer everyone,” agrees Jamie, her PR director.
Amazingly enough, after hearing from John, the young intern who met Julia at the fish market in Inman Square, I heard from Robert Berkowitz, the owner of the very same, now famous Legal Seafoods. “She was thrilled to find truly fresh fish right in her neighborhood,” says Robert, who explains seafood was not the protein of choice for Americans in the 1960s. “Julia was able to convince new generations of mothers not only how easy it was to cook seafood, but how good it could taste as well.”
Maybe the most memorable thing Robert shared was how Julia would pull up in front of the market in her beige Volkswagen Beetle with a spatula wired to the radio antenna. This was so she could “remember where I’ve parked my car.”
Her humor was not always deliberate, just a reflection of her warm outlook on life.
Alison, the owner of the Manhattan eatery, recalls a time Julia visited her restaurant and ordered roast chicken. As the chicken was leaving the kitchen, it slipped off the plate and landed on the floor. “It gave me a fit of the giggles, for all I could think of was the roast chicken episode of her PBS show,” says Alison. “While she scooped hers up from the floor, we, of course, remade hers.” The best part was telling Julia what had happened, and her waving her hand in the air with that distinctive voice saying, “Oh, you could bring it.”
I can’t believe all the amazing stories I received when writing this article, and wish I could have included them all. She gave people hope in their careers, meaning to their menus, and energy and inspiration in their everyday attitudes. It’s no wonder so many people have gathered to celebrate 100 years of Julia Child.
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