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Mastering the Art of French Cooking



August 31, 2012

>By Melanie Young

Much has been written about the legacy of Julia Child, who would have turned 100 years old this week. Many of her colleagues and admirers have posted their Julia recollections and tributes online. In my role as president of Les Dames d’Escoffier New York ( I have responded to a number of questions on what she meant to the food and beverage industry and to women who work in the field, which is significant. People have shared their favorite recipes from her cookbooks, most notably Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

But as someone with both a palate and passion for good food who professes to be neither a professional chef or home cook, just a woman lucky enough to have wonderful people in her life who enjoy cooking for her, my lessons from Julia are not about cooking.

I was fortunate in my life to have connected with Julia on several occasions in my role as Awards Director for The James Beard Foundation (, escorting her to media interviews, working with her on her script for various shows and producing a tribute in her memory after she left us. She was a towering woman in height and in personality, and I admired her for many reasons that did not necessarily all have to do with food.

I admired Julia as a role model. Here was a woman who found her passion for fine food while living in France and pursued serious cooking in her late 30s. She published her first cookbook in her 50s and went on to become a television star long after many much younger women today are deemed to old for the screen. Her book had been turned down multiple times until it met the keen eye of Editor Judith Jones, but she did not let rejection turn into dejection. Julia demonstrated that a late bloomer can really blossom into something wonderful.

Julia’s height, her voice, her looks were uniquely her own and she played them up well. Today, it seems so many women need to alter their looks to feel comfortable with themselves.

Julia, like me, was a breast cancer survivor and at a time when Continue Reading…