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Wednesday, April 9

Chefography: Julia Child

I loved watching the Julia Child Chefography and learning about the very unique life the woman who started it all had. It was a touching and educational tribute to her, and long overdue on Food Network's part. If you didn't catch it, it repeats again this weekend.

I remember watching her on PBS as a little kid, but had no idea she'd already been a successful television chef for more than 20 years! Her first show, The French Chef, debuted in February 1963.

(Julia Child, ploughed into a corn field)

Little facts like how Julia's famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was titled "Mastering" instead of "Master" because she wanted readers to think of it as a process that you continually work on (as opposed to eventually becoming the "master" of) were really cool to learn.

Food Network put in a lot of great "vintage" footage of Julia's appearances with Emeril Lagasse, Sara Moulton, Wolfgang Puck, and others. I particularly liked Wolfgang's quote, "I can't believe I'm telling Julia Child how to cook. That's like telling God how to create the World."

The most touching part of the special was the description of her caring tirelessly for her husband Paul, whom she married in 1946. When he died in 1994, Julia spent the next ten years before she died promoting up-and-coming chefs through television shows and guest appearances.

Everyone who ever met or came into contact with Julia just speaks so highly of the woman who thought "pleasure was an inalieable right" and who "opened the door" for networks like Food Network and every person who appears on it today.

The Chefography ends with a description of how Julia eventually donated her kitchen to the Smithsonian here in D.C. and died peacefully in her sleep in 2004. Bob Tuschman gives a heartfelt thanks to the "force of nature" that is and was Julia Child.

And then.

With no commercial break.

You see:



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At 4/09/2008 5:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should read Julia Child's book "My Life in France". It's a very entertaining, inspirational book about Julia's life and I highly recommend it!

At 4/09/2008 6:51 PM , Blogger ScottE. said...

Ditto Anon's comment...MY LIFE IN FRANCE is a beautiful book about Julia and Paul's life together.

I keep saying Guy is going to ruin the Food Network, but no one listened/listens to me...I can't stand him.

At 4/09/2008 8:16 PM , Anonymous Robert said...

Loved the hour on Julia Child. She was a hoot! Of course, one can measure when someone reaches iconic status when they're satirized on Saturday Night Live, and their sendup of her ("Save the livers!!!") was priceless.

...and now onto someone far less talented and important. Guy's restaurant here in Sacramento (Tex Wasabi's) sucks. SUCKS. The reviewers have hated it. Everyone I know loathes it. It must get tourist trade from people who like him from Food Network, because I know no locals who like the place.

At 4/09/2008 9:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched this and thought it was a fluff piece compared to the very good PBS documentary on Julia Child. And let's face it, PBS has a far more legitimate claim on her than Food Network. Bob Tuschman trying to borrow her legitimacy by claiming that every Food Network cook walks in her shoes. Really? Aunt Sandy? Paula Deen? The predominant Food Network ethic - don't break a sweat or take more than twenty minutes to prepare a meal - is the antithesis of everything Julia Child stood for, mainly that time and effort invested in classic food will pay off exponentially. And this is the same Tuschman who told Amy Finely in "The Next Food Network Star" that she had to drop the "I've been to Paris and you haven't" attitude? What was Julia Child about if not making French food palatable for Americans, literally and figuratively? If she were alive today and trying to break into television would Food Network hire her? I seriously doubt it.


At 4/09/2008 9:59 PM , Blogger Luna said...

I'm in Austin (work mtg) this week and nearly RAN OVER Guy Fee-eddy at a local restaurant, doing a Diners, etc. show there! Every Diners show is the SAME though isn't it? However, this restaurant was pretty good, hardly your typical diner food.

Last month, I had another FoodNetwork Moment when we went to Rory's (runner up last Foodnetwork Star) restaurant in Vega, and she brought our food. It was good steak, but the dessert was disappointing. But then I thought most desserts were frozen, not handmade by the chef.

At 4/09/2008 11:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Julia

You can rent DVDs that give her full biography. Super entertaining.

RE: Guy

You feel the same way about him as I do Ina Garten, and the show ACE OF CAKES! "Click."

To each their own.

At 4/10/2008 10:23 AM , Blogger jacob said...

anon: thanks! I'm looking for something good to read right now, actually.

scotte: he was actually tolerable in person at his food demos in Miami, but I just can't stand his shows.

robert: I remember thinking the idea was interesting (sushi & tex mex?) but haven't heard anything good about it since. I'll avoid it if I come to Sac.

Anon/Marilyn: Julia was the expert at making difficult concepts seem easy and accessible, and few have been able to replicate that. So, yes, I think Paula and even Sandra Lee should acknowledge Julia's groundbreaking contribution.

Do they make the same food or focus on the same concepts? No. Their cooking mantras may be different, but their on-screen presence is modeled precisely off of Julia.

Amy Finley did have a bit of a snooty french attitude at first, while Julia never acted as if her knowledge of French cooking held to her somewhat of a higher degree. If Amy could have figured out a way to find a similar balance, perhaps her show would have been more successful.

luna: Rory was your server? Must not be as successful as she imagined. Sorry about your dessert. And, yeah, I think the people (other than Guy) and food parts of DD&D are okay.

anon: yep! As I mentioned above, I thought Guy was okay in-person, but I haven't been thrilled with his shows. Perhaps a different kind of show (less hype) would get me to watch.

At 4/10/2008 10:36 AM , Blogger Clutch_fan_74 said...

Ah--from a culinary legend to Guy and an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, andDives. Right-because nothing goes together more! hahahaha That's yet one more reason why remotes rule!
The chefography episode was good although I found myself wondering whether or not if she were coming up in the tv food world today, and trying to break in as a celebrity chef, if she would have been so well received.
Her book is a really awesome read if you have the chance to check it out.

At 4/10/2008 10:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely read "My Life in France". You will learn so much about Julia, Paul and their life together, as well as what inspired Julia with her cooking. The story is beautiful, the pictures are beautiful. I got it as a Christmas present in 2006, and I've read it at least 4 times since. You will really enjoy it.

At 4/10/2008 11:31 AM , Blogger Clutch_fan_74 said...

Anon: You are absolutely right. The photos are beautiful.

At 4/10/2008 11:56 AM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

Ditto to what Marilyn/Anon said except I would like to add that Tuschman is such a weasel that if Julia Child were alive and in a position to do a show, she most likely wouldn't ever consider doing it for FN. I'll bet she would be crtical of many of FN's moves just like Bourdain is. Try bashing Julia like we do Bourdain.

As for the HedgeHog, well every other Fieri in America is saying "WTF is this idiot doing to our name ' ? And Scotte , this little Pygmy is ruining the Food Network. This guy is like a bad stain on the network.

At 4/10/2008 12:17 PM , Blogger jacob said...

It's unfair to ask whether or not Julia Child would be "hired" today, as the Food Network would probably not exist (at least in the same fashion) if it hadn't been for Julia's initial contribution.

That's like saying: Would Madonna have been as successful today if she had emerged right when Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, etc. were super-popular?

At 4/10/2008 2:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Guy Fee-eddy , he is such a douche. He dresses like a 12 year old skater( no offense to skaters) . The stupid stuff that he says on his show irks the heck out of me. He actually said on a recent episode that a dish was " too legit to quit" . I wish the Food Network would get rid of this clown .

At 4/10/2008 2:39 PM , Anonymous Jeff said...

In all candor, I believe that, with work, Amy Finley could be a decent TV chef. I keep going back to the example set by TNFNS' 4th-place finisher Nathan Lyon, who has his own show on Discovery Health Channel and FitTV called "A Lyon in the Kitchen." He paid rapt attention to "Professor" Alton Brown during the field piece exercise, and he uses at least one on each episode of his show. It's a fascinating half-hour. And as for TFN's newest phenom, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen tagged him correctly as a mix of Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali. There's a dash of Brown thrown in(note the spiked hair). While his "Guy's Big Bite" is a cooking show with a kick to it, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," is a careful if puckish examination of the still curious phenomenon of individually-run eateries still in existence throughout the U.S. Fieri is the perfect guide.

At 4/10/2008 4:47 PM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

Some of the places Hedgehog visits on DDD are worthy of exposure, sure, and are interesting to learn about. I admit, I can live thru a half hour..

Now Guy's Big Bite is very painful to watch. The guy is a douche. I think much of this comes from being 5' 4".

The forced vernacular, the signet pinky ring, the Mr T starter kit, hair, , the belly , tattoos , squeeze bottles etc..
Now he wants everyone to address him as Fee' eddy. WTF? I didn't know he was an Italian count .

Anything else to annoy America ?

At 4/10/2008 5:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

as much as everyone seems to hate the emergence of Fieri over the past year, the Nielsen ratings show FN's primetime audience grew 13% over the period Apr 2007-Apr 2008.


Which means while many may bemoan the hoi polloi "Wal-Mart"-ization of FN, it's apparently doing the one thing that matters in the end. Brinting in more viewers, which means Scripps (FN's parent company) can charge more money for advertising during primetime.

Like it or loathe it, in the end its all about profits for Scripps, and the direction FN has taken over the past year apparently has been validated by Nielsen's numbers.

At 4/10/2008 6:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with Fierri is what happens to a lot--but not all fn stars.

They are ok in the beginning, then the more they are visible, the more annoying they become. Rachael is a good example of this.

Now: I was totally all for Guy when I watched him go through the competition on The Next Food Network Star, and while I don't think he's all bad, he also is at times bucking with Rachael and Paula in the annoyance factor. What may have come off as previously likeable is waring thin.

I can see why he grabs ratings though, and I do have to give props for the exposure he has given to some places on the show.

At 4/14/2008 8:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacob said:
"It's unfair to ask whether or not Julia Child would be "hired" today, as the Food Network would probably not exist (at least in the same fashion) if it
hadn't been for Julia's initial contribution..."
Very good point.
She set the trend, pathing the way for tv chefs of today so really there would be no Food Network really to speak of had Julia and others not done it first.
Or--even if there was a Food Network, it more than likely would not be what we're used to today.

At 4/14/2008 10:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a funny little Julia Child anecdote.

When I was young (5 or 6 maybe), I lived in Cambridge, MA...quite literally a stone's throw away from the Childs'.

I really didn't know much about her and all that except that it was really neat to know a real TV Star! But I will always remember that her car antenna had a gigantic wooden spoon attached to it and my brother and I would always wave to her when we saw that spoon..."Hi Missssss Childddddsssss...."

And we would get that distinctive voice reply...."Ohhhhh helllloooo boyss..."

At 1/12/2009 2:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone has a FD Star they can't stand. For me, it is none other than Alton Brown. Good god, that geek grates on my nerves! Every time Good Eats comes on, I "Click". He really fudges up Iron Chef, too. He thinks he's so "smart & witty"... GAG! In reality, he is nothing more than an over-hyped, anal retentive gasbag. Awful voice, awful face, awful personality... just plain awful. PERIOD. lol I really despise that arrogant nerd with a passion.

About Guy: When I first saw a commercial for his show, I thought to myself "Who is that chubby wigger?". lmao! However, he has since won me over with his sensuous chocolate-brown eyes, cute smile & tight a$$. : D
Upon closer examination, I discovered that he isn't really "chubby", he just has a thick neck & full face. His body is pretty tight, actually. Yum-O! lol I really like DDD & URS; he's a good host. Sure, he says some kinda goofy stuff sometimes, but I think the good outweighs the bad. Cute, sweet & funny; can't beat that combo.

At 1/12/2009 2:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typo correction: "FN Star" not "FD Star". Sorry for the error. lol


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