What's Cooking? Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian
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Julia Child  |  Cooking  |  Kitchens & Cooking Implements

I cooked for Julia in this kitchen back in 1993 and subsequently went back a few times to bring her my freshly-baked croissants. I was putting a radio food show demo together at the time and instead of doing a phone interview I asked Julia's assistant if I could cook lunch for her and do the interview in person. Julia got on the phone and said, 'Yes, you can make lunch for me. How about tomorrow?' Yipes! When I arrived the next morning with bags of ingredients, Julia greeted me at the door, showed me to the kitchen, and then, with a wave and a "Oh, you know where everything is!", she disappeared to her upstairs office until noon. A fellow named Jim Burke joined us for lunch (at the time I was unaware that Jim is a rather famous chef and restaurant owner in the Boston area. Thank goodness I didn't know---such pressure!).

She opened a bottle of wine and we had Tomato Tart, a vegetable stew called Ciambotta (mentioned on the Sopranos!), Mesclun Greens with Lemon and Olive oil, and Lemon-Blueberry Trifle. I forgot to serve my homemade bread, but Julia found it on the counter after I left and enjoyed some later in the day.

While I was preparing lunch my arms got unusually tired. Julia's assistant explained that the counters were a few inches taller than average, a design of Mr. Child's to accomodate Ms. Child's 6' 3" frame. By the end of lunch and the interview Julia knew more about me than I intended to get to know about her.

I gathered my gear for another interview session, this time bringing my homemade croissants , still warm from my 1-hour drive from Providence to Cambridge. When she lightly scolded me for not bringing coffee (she then brewed some herself), I made a mental note and did not forget the coffee next time I visited. She commended me on the amount of butter I had used in the recipe.

Thanks for allowing me to share my experiences in this lovely kitchen. They are memories I will cherish forever.

Barry Nelson
Foxborough, MA


Julia has been an inspiration to my wife and me and our friends for so many years. She literally taught us how to cook and enjoy food. Visiting this wonderful WEB site literally brings me to tears. We shall be visiting Julia's kitchen this coming weekend. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful person.

Dr. Thomas E. Nolan
Harleysville, PA


In late summer 1985 I arrived in Cambridge to do graduate work and wondered if I would ever bump into any of the city's notables. In a couple of days, I DID run into a famous couple while waiting for friends at Logan Airport -- Julia and Paul Child! There was something which I had always wanted to know from The French Chef. Should I ask? After all, they looked quite busy as they checked in at the departure gate. After mustering up considerable courage I approached Ms. Child, a woman whose stature (both professionally and physically) towered over me.

"Ms. Child," I petitioned,"I've been a viewer of yours since I was a little child when public television came to Hawaii in the '60's. Could you tell me that French tongue twister that you recited on your show -- the one about Dido on the back of the turkey?"

"Sure!" she exclaimed. " Didon dîna, dit-on, du dos dodu d'un dodu dindon."

"Thank you so much," I said having scribbled the precious find in a pocket notebook. "Have a good trip and aloha!"

Later that same night I would see her on the Tonight Show telling Johnny Carson about her life and her new video cooking series. I relived my brush with culinary destiny that night, as I do now whenever I meet French language students and tell them a story behind, "Didon dina, dit-on ...."

David Masunaga
Honolulu, Hawaii


When I was a child, my father and I would watch Julia create many wonderful dishes on her show. We loved to watch her. She had such a warmth and I often felt as though I was in that kitchen.

My father and I would spend many hours in our own kitchen cooking together. He would always call me Julia as we cooked. It was our way of bonding and no one else's in the family. I cherish those days with my father in our kitchen and in front of the television watching and learning.

Rosa Gubbins
Kankakee, Illinois


I entered a recipe contest in one of our local newspapers and won two tickets to a benefit cooking class given by Julia at St Marks Cathedral. Julia did a class on stage where a complete kitchen had be set up. All the appliances and utensils she used were numbered, and when the class was over, each item was auctioned off to further enhance the benefit. It was a memorable class for me.

Allen Peery
Bellevue, WA


I am a huge fan of Julia Child and have learned so much from watching her television shows and from reading her books. A number of years ago I was assisting a friend of mine who is a chef, in the preperation and execution of the soup course which was to be served at a wine dinner being held in Mrs. Child's honor. Before the paying guests were to arrive, those participating in the event were allowed to have their pictures taken with her and perhaps a word or two.

I was next in line to meet Julia and overheard the conversation between her and a young, gushing waitress...."oh Mrs. Child - I love your work so much...you've always been like a god to me!" ....And without missing a beat, the wonderful Julia Child patted her on her shoulder and said..."Goddess, dear."

L. Burbaugh
Pattonsburg, MO


I think it was in 2000 or so I was in Las Vegas for a business convention. I didn't gamble, so I went down early for breakfast. It was at the Bellagio hotel there.

As I was walking on the main floor, who do I see on a motorized electric scooter? Julia! She was doing at least 10 miles an hour on that thing, headed I don't know where. I thought to myself, "now what kind of gig is Julia doing in Vegas?" I still wonder.

Steve Ege
Washington, DC


In 1965, as a 6th grade "latch-key" kid, I discovered PBS and Julia Child. Julia's program was my after-school entertainment, and opened up, for me, a life-long passion for cooking. Her enthusiasm, knowledge, and humor (she was the first grown up I saw who could laugh at her own foibles....a very endearing quality, indeed) captivated me, and kept me coming back to her for more.

In 1993 I had the privelege of meeting Julia in person at a book signing. What an honor to meet this dear lady in person! She is a treasure.

Juli Solinger
Dallas, TX


I watched Julia Child with my father in the 60s, but it was my wife who loved Julia's work with a passion. My wife is now partly disabled, and not cooking much, but she did a bread machine bread a few days ago, which looked all wrong after an hour. We saved it -- and when the bread came out all right, it was Julia who was responsible. Saving something that's not going quite right is a part of living for us, and Julia's attitude about managing, cheerfully, is at the base of everything we do in the kitchen. She is indeed an American treasure.

D. Shapiro
Toronto, Canada


I had the fortune to meet julia while attending culinary school. She was in a rush to leave after her speach and book signing but stoped and signed my book. I will always remember her for that because when she was signing my book she said never for get where you came from and who you are. I have watched julia all my life have all her book, I studied to be a chef like her but will never be the cook she is. Some day i would just like to sit down and talk to her and say thank for every thing and bone apatit

adam skiff
Burlington, Vermont


I began watching PBS at 2 years of age. At about 6 years of age, I became enthralled by the cooking show with Julia Child. It, and she, were absolutely fabulous - way more interesting than that dopey yellow bird. I made my first meal for others at age 13 from a recipe on one of her shows, Chicken Cacciatore. To date I have become a self-considered accomplished cook and hold as prized possessions almost every book to which Julia contributed. My most prized possession is my original volumes of Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. At a cooking concert in Portland Oregon, when Julia was a spry 83(?), she, Martin Yan, Graham Kerr and Caprial Pence put on a wonderful cooking display. After the show, wine and hors d'oevres were served and Julia took to meeting her fans. In a moment that I will never forget, I brought to her my volume one of mastering and spoke to her briefly in French as she signed my book. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. She is truly an inspiration and a hero and has inspired me to daily creating good food.

Jean Gelinas
Deerfield, NH


I have an autographed picture of Julia hanging in my kitchen. My husband sent away for it as a surprise for me many years ago. She's always there to keep me company while I cook.

I missed my opportunity to meet her when I was working at a fine dining restaurant a few years ago. I worked about 55-60 hours a week and wouldn't you know it... she came in on my day off! She came right behind the line to check out our operation. She spent some time talking and shaking hands with everyone, and of course they were all beaming and thrilled. Someone had rushed out to buy a disposable camera and she posed for pictures with all my co-workers. I was so disappointed when I found out I missed her, I'll never get that opportunity again.

Terri Pike
Orlando, Florida


I was a huge fan of Julia's P.B.S. cooking show in the early '70's. She instilled in me the belief that gourmet cooking was within my reach.

Since that time, I have had an immense love and fascination with fine cooking. She is truly an American legend and treasure. I salute her long and distinguished life

Barbara B. Steger
Charlottesville, Virginia


Julia Child's books and TV shows made a cook out of a young State Department bride, expected to give good dinner parties. Thanks to Julia, I actually conquered the art of a flaky pie crust. Living in Canada, I practiced making pie dough every weekend in the the long winters while my family was skiing and I was pregnant. Her book and TV shows inspired me to ever-increasing challenges. I believe that the apex of my cooking experience occurred when I successfully followed her directions for making puff pastry, Vol. 2, Mastering the Art, p.468. I made a pilgrimage in her honor to the town of Pithiviers (Ibid. p.468). Dear Julia, Happy Birthday!

Sue Christianson
Annandale, VA


My mother was a fabulous cook, and I began cooking with her at a very early age. We enjoyed reading cookbooks and watching cooking shows together and began watching Julia's in the mid-1960s, not long after she began. I have dozens and dozens of cookbooks, but none so frequently used as those by Julia. You see, I have all these "warm fuzzies" associated with Julia, since I spent so many hours in the kitchen with her (courtesy of PBS) and my mother. When I finally met Julia a few years ago, it felt as if I were reuniting with a beloved aunt who had been a part of my childhood. I've had occasion to see her a few more times, and each time I've been struck by her calm energy, positive attitude, and zest for life. There's no one quite like her. I wish my mother had been able to meet her.

Jean Picard
Ventura, CA


I had just relocated to Boston from Los Angeles to help open the first Starbucks at the corner of Beacon and Charles. Our PR person was very good friends with Julia and had invited me to attend a party honoring her. The party was held at Julia's home in Cambridge and was celebrating her 40th or 50th year affiliation with the Cordon Bleu. Unfortunately, Julia's husband had just passed away a few days earlier and she was not in attendance. However, it was still held in her house and a good time was had by all. After all the guests had left, I was sitting around Julia's kitchen table with her personal assistant and some other friends. I had to pinch myself several times to believe what was going on. I will never forget sitting at Julia's table drinking champagne and eating leftovers from her old black refrigerator. It was amazing that even though Julia was not there, you felt the warmth of her presence in every part of her kitchen. What a great lady!

Randy J. Fisher
Winter Park, FL


Remember watching Julia's first PBS series on a tiny, grainy black and white tv. It made me feel as if I could do some of those things too, and indeed I did! In later years I took many cooking classes and I still have the Cuisinart I bought in 1976 for $60-a huge price in those days. Julia is directly responsible for my interest in cooking, which I've passed on to my children and now my grandchildren. Thanks, Julia!

H. Skinner
Raleigh, NC


It has always been a GREAT privilege to watch Julia Child, read her books and try to use your technique in my kitchen. I have learned a tremendous amount from her shows. Added to my mother's teachings, I have always enjoyed cooking and serving meals.

June Glenn


Julia has been a HUGE inspiration for me all my life (I am a 35 year old man). She is no doubt the single biggest source of inspiration in my culinary development. I feel as though I know her personally! I have been reading her books since age 11! And I watch any and all of her TV programs that I can find. I espcially love her older series "JC and Company/More Company","The French Chef", even "Dinner and Julia's" You can't seem to find these shows anywhere any more. I wish they were made availavble on video. I'd purchase them in a second! I literally own everything "Julia" that is available to own, EVERY book she ever published, her six-video Cooking Series that was released back in 1985, even her biography book and video from A&E. I can't wait for the Exhibit to open. I'll be there! I think the public wants more and more Julia! Many of the modern day TV cooks can't compare to her at all. I LOVE her! I was delighted to hear about the Smithsonian Exhibit. It's a great tribute to a real American Treasure.

I have patterned my own Kitchen after hers and have a huge amount of cookware, knives, gadgets and a great big collection of French Copper Cookware. I hang my cookware and gadgets all over my Kitchen just like Julia did. It's beautiful.

Adam Werner
Brooklyn, NY


Julia always reminds me of my grandmother in Phoenix, AZ. She is also a "foodie" and a big Julia follower. She even celebrates Julia's birthday each year by making a cake from one of Julia's cookbooks. She'd invite us all over to celebrate.

Kathryn Speckart


When my brothers and I were growing up, we'd watch Julia Child cook all those delicious things in her kitchen. After seeing several shows, my younger brother said we should make Julia our third grandma and visit her often.

Craig Hansen
Roseville, CA


I discovered Julia Child in 1967 on PBS when I was living in a rural area of Tennessee, with hardly any access to equipment or ingredients. Her passion and knowledge absolutely hooked me, and I have been on a lifelong quest ever since to learn how to cook. I cannot imagine what my life would be like had I not stumbled onto Julia Child. She is not only an American treasure, she is a clear-thinking woman who demonstrates that if you set your mind to something, you can learn to do it and you can share what you know with others. Her utter lack of pretension is a lesson we should all memorize.

Gloria Anderson
Birmingham, AL


When I was a young girl, growing up in the 60's, my favorite show was to watch Julia on Sat's. My best memory was when the microphone slipped and fell into her blouse. She wiggled around a bit, but continued on without skipping a beat. But the mic must have fallen deeper, so she turned around, retrieved the mic and continued on with the show!

Cheryl Cadwell
Red Wing, MN


It's a pleasure to see Julia Child recognized. I am sure there are many cooks like myself who could not have imagined the (wonderful) influence she has been since I first recieved my cookbook From Julia Child's Kitchen in 1975. I will never forget the first taste of Potage Parmentier; potage bonne femme! My tastebuds will always be indebted to Julia! BonAppetite

Nancy Hielscher
Sarasota, FL


Christmas Eve 1978 brought unexpected snows to Massachusetts preventing my family from travelling over the Mohawk Trail to spend Christmas w/my sister's family. Not having planned a holiday dinner, my mother scavenged through her pantry and served up potato soup & bread. We didn't know that this would be our last Christmas dinner w/her as she passed away unexpectedly 6 weeks later. On Christmas Eve, I have a Polish meal called a "Wigilia." The 1st course is always a potato soup for which I use Julia's recipe in honor of my mother. Julia is truly a National treasure.

Dottie (Ryczek) Gravel
Raleigh, NC


This website and the stories on it are awesome! Thanks for sharing these experiences with all of us..I started watching Julia in the 1960s.....and have watched her programs as I have moved through Colorado, New Mexico, and back to Texas....and have loved learning from such a wonderful professional, who is so personable and so practical.....One of my most prized possessions is "From Julia Child's Kitchen", published in 1975, which is autographed by both Julia and Paul, and which I bought at a tag sale.....Kudos to you for sharing your experiences, and for sharing her with all of us....Thanks!

Dee Money
Del Rio, Texas


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