Julia Carolyn McWilliams, or Julia Child, was born on August 1912 in Pasadena, California, USA. She was known for her career as an American cooking expert, a television personality, and an author.

Her work focused on promoting traditional French cuisines, mainly via her public TV programs and cookbooks. However, Julia Child was so much more than an author and a cooking expert.

She was also a government spy (yes, she was, but only briefly), a television celebrity, and a breast cancer survivor.

Furthermore, the excellent Julia child cookbook, 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking,' has been a household name since its publication.

Her life journey was one of inspiration, dedication, and struggle. Child had an unwavering attitude towards the world, and she showed that in everything she did.

An old hard-cover cookbook on a kitchen counter. There is also a wooden spoon, oregano, garlic, and green onions next to it. Julia Child's cookbook was a sensation among the masses as it presented recipes with such intricate depth
Julia Child was not just a celebrity chef; she was one of the best American chefs of her time and after. No one to date has reached the standards and foundations set by her (Source: Pixabay)

It did not matter whether she was doing shows, writing her cookbooks, or working on something else; she always showed a relentless attitude towards it. This is what made her one of the top chefs in the USA, even after her passing!

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Early Life

Julia Child, aka Julia McWilliams, was born on the 15th of August, 1912, in Pasadena, CA. Her parents had three children, and she was the eldest and was known by several pet names because those who loved her were many: 'Jukies,' 'Juke,' and 'Juju.'

Child's father, John McWilliams Jr., graduated from Princeton and was one of the earliest investors in the real estate of California.

Child's mother, Julia Carolyn Weston, was the heiress of a paper company and her father served as Massachusetts' lieutenant governor.

Julia Child's family had substantial wealth, and because of this, her childhood was quite privileged.

She received her initial education at the Katherine Branson School for Girls, considered one of San Francisco's elite institutions. Here at an amazing height of 6'2", Child was her class's tallest student.

Not only a famous author during adulthood, during her childhood, she was quite the prankster! One of her friends recalled her pranking escapades as "really, really wild."

Moreover, Julia Child was an adventurous kid and an athletic one. She had a particular knack for tennis, golf, and hunting small game.

It wasn't until the 1930s that Child thought of leaving all that athleticism behind and focusing on her writing.

As a result, she got accepted to Northampton, Massachusetts' Smith College. It was here that she learned how to write; little did she know that even writing would not be her initial passion.

During these times, Child used to submit spontaneous manuscripts to The New Yorker. However, not a single of her work was ever published.

Career And Marriage

Chefs like Bobby Flay knew that they always wanted to be chefs and pursued their desires with the utmost focus. The same cannot be said about Julia Child.

After her academic qualifications, Julia Child started working as a copywriter in the advertising department for W. & J. Sloane.

However, she missed California and, after three years, returned, making a small career out of writing for local publications.

She also worked in the advertising departments of various local firms. It was during that time that she also did some volunteer work for the Junior League of Pasadena.

Subsequently, Child tried to get into the women's army corps; but she was rejected because of her height.

After World War 2, she applied to the 'Office of Strategic Services and was recruited for the position of typist and was sent to Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka).

Although her reason was joining was to become a spy, she settled for the position. But it wasn't too long before she received her promotion and became a top-secret researcher.

Not many chefs got to travel and experience other cuisines, and apart from Julia Child, one of the only examples we have is Anthony Bourdain.

It was in Ceylon that she met Paul Cushing Child in 1943. Paul worked as a mapmaker and was a member of one of the most renowned families in Boston.

Romance soon bloomed when both of them were drafted to China – yet again working side by side.

In China, Paul, a prominent lover of great food, introduced Julia to cooking, and as they say, the rest is history.

A person holding and reading a cookbook. There is an image of the recipe on one page and instructions on the other. The top chefs in the USA were not always destined for success; however, many reached there because of consistent hard work and dedication
Julia Child published multiple cookbooks in her lifetime; however, her crowning achievement was 'The Way To Cook.' It was a masterpiece in itself and bridged the gap between reading and watching (Source: Unsplash)

Upon returning from the war, Julia began studying cooking in Beverly Hills in California. They tied the knot in the September of 1946 moved to Paris in 1948.

It is here that Julia found her love and appreciation for French food and decided that she wanted to study French cooking. After initially studying French, she applied for and secured a position at Cordon Bleu.

Here she met Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, and the three together formed the cooking school known as School of the Three Gourmets (L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes).

During this decade, the three of them researched multiple recipes, testing and turning them into household culinary treats for everyone.

This Julia Child cookbook was focused on French to English translations of recipes. However, unlike the other translators who only provided overviews, Julia focused on providing a detailed analysis of the recipes.

After much work, the three of them finally published their first book, an extremely detailed 726-page cookbook named 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking.'

The book was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1961, gaining an almost cult-like following among readers and received considerable critical acclaim.

The Julia Child cookbook, with its attention to detail and illustrated pages, turned into a bestseller. Furthermore, the best thing this book did was provide access to fine cuisine to all.

Success And Fame

As far as successful female chefs go, the list is quite extensive; however, apart from Cat Cora, Julia Child is the best example we have!

After the critically acclaimed success of her first publication, Julia Child reverted to her first love and started writing articles for magazines. As a result, she secured a position as a columnist in 'The Boston Globe.'

In 1962, during a book review show, Julia was subject to a life-changing epiphany: having her very own television show.

Immediately, she started working on this idea and made arrangements, and only a year after, she debuted into the television world with her famous show on WGBH, 'The French Chef.'

The show had great success and was a hit among the audience, becoming one of the most viewed shows. It ran for around ten years and won multiple momentous awards during its runtime.

In 1971, Child wrote her second cookbook, 'The French Chef Cook Book.' It was mainly an extension of all the recipes featured in the show.

After this cookbook, she followed up with another one, the second volume of her most famous cookbook, 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking,' in collaboration with Simone Beck.

Furthermore, in 1972 Julia Child's show 'The French Chef' became the first open captioned show on national television.

Julia continued climbing the ladder of success when she published 'From Julia Child's Kitchen,' which became her fourth published cookbook.

This was further followed by multiple programs on television like:

  • 'Julia Child and Company'
  • 'Dinner at Julia's'
  • 'Julia Child and More Company'

Among her contributions to the culinary world, arguably the most notable is when she formed 'The American Institute of Wine & Food' with her fellow vintners Richard Graf and Robert Mondavi.

The focus of this organization was to educate the public on the specifics of wine and food quality.

Julia also created several cooking shows and is considered one of the best chefs in the USA, and her cookbooks are still widely popular amongst the masses.

However, her masterpiece was the audio-visual book 'The Way to Cook,' accompanied by multiple instructional videos on cooking tips and recipes.

In her last years, she donated her workplace and house to Smith College and moved into a retirement community.

She also donated her kitchen to the National Museum of American History. The kitchen in question was very close to her heart because it was designed by her husband, Paul.

Julia Child breathed her last on the 13th of August 2004 due to complications arising from kidney failure, just two days short of her 92nd birthday.

And unlike Mario Batali, Julia ensured that she maintained an unblemished public image and did not misuse any fame or power that came her way.

The 'Absolutely Fabulous Rose' was renamed 'Julia Child Rose' by the United Kingdom in tribute to this legendary cook who revolutionized the world of cooking.

A yellow bush rose most commonly known as 'Absolutely Fabulous Rose' or 'Julia Child Rose.' The Yellow rose symbolizes hope, friendship, joy, and wisdom. Julia Child loved these roses and their sweet scent
Julia Child loved the Yellow Bush Rose and had plenty in her garden. It is mostly known now as the Julia Child Rose, and she played a part in sharing her name with the rose before her death (Source: Pixabay)

Learning To Cook Professionally Like The Top Chefs In USA

We all might be familiar today with celebrity chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Cat Cora, Gordon Ramsey, Bobby Flay, and many more.

However, there is one who towers above all of them; the one who brought cooking to television and revolutionized the world of cooking – Julia Child.

Her contributions are first-resort for anyone wishing to find easy recipes to cook at home. Undoubtedly, she is considered the best chef in America, and rightly so because she made cooking shows the new normal.

If you are interested in learning cooking professionally, then skip those YouTube tutorials and get a professional and experienced tutor for yourself at Superprof.

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