On Aug. 15, 1912, the world welcomed a baby girl into the world. What do you expect? Historical figures don’t pop out as full-grown adults.
Julia Child was a female chef and culinary genius with a penchant for French cuisine. She revolutionized the cooking world and proved to everyone that a woman could handle a stressful job, such as being a professional chef.
From the beginning, Child was surrounded by a world of food. Her parents loved traveling to progressive restaurants all over the world, exposing her to different styles of cooking. This inspired her love for cooking.
Before becoming a world-famous chef, she was a typist and research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, D.C., during World War II and after the war, moved to Paris with her new husband and fellow OSS employee, Paul Child, on assignment. This turned out to be extremely helpful, considering Paris is known for producing exceptional, experienced chefs.
Originally, when Child signed up for a cooking class in Paris, she was put in a class for housewife cooking. Although this was not what she wanted, she soon excelled in the course, and begged to be in a more rigorous class.
It took some arguing, but she eventually got transferred to Le Cordon Bleu in 1949, a year-long, all-male class designed to prepare chefs for the demanding profession of cooking. She thrived in this course, earning the respect of many prominent chefs while also learning new skills.
In 1952, Child and two other women, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, opened a cooking school in France called “L’Ecole de Trois Gourmandes” (“The School of the Three Gourmands”). They also decided to work together on a French cookbook for Americans. Six years later, they sent in the manuscript to a large publisher, but the book was rejected, probably for being too long (734 pages). Regardless, the book was picked up by another large publisher and finally came out in September 1961.
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One,” was an instant success, leading to Child’s solo cooking show, “The French Chef,” in 1963, which aired until 1973. She even won the George Foster Peabody Award.
Her successful life was not due to luck, but rather to hard work, determination, hard-headedness and talent. She paved the way for myriad female chefs, and she showed that women can be just as successful as men.
Her life even inspired a movie, “Julie & Julia,” which was based on a true story. The movie covers the effect that Child’s life had on a young New Yorker, Julie Powell, following the 9/11 attacks. Powell decides to cook every recipe in Child’s cookbook in a year, and blog about it.
Child continues to inspire and impact people around the world because her determination shows that if you set your mind to something, it can happen.
•Hannah Boucher is a sophomore at Eisenhower High School and a member of the Yakima Herald-Republic’s Unleashed program for teen journalists.