JULIA CHILD

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After graduating from Smith College with a major in history, Julia Child worked as a copywriter for an advertising agency, and later - after being rejected from the Women’s Army Corps due to her height of 6’2” - she became a typist for the Office of Strategic Services in Washington. She was quickly promoted to the position of top secret researcher, working directly for the head of the OSS. She was a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence Division, then worked as an assistant to developers at the OSS Emergency Rescue Equipment Section where her very first foray into cooking was in the development of a shark repellant to keep curious sharks from setting off underwater explosives. 

In 1946, she married Paul Child and they moved to France in 1948. It was here that Julia experienced a meal that she described to The New York Times as “an opening up of the soul and spirit for me.” She was a terrible cook well into her 30s, but she attended the male-dominated Le Cordon Blue cooking school and studied under many of France’s master chefs. She began collaborating with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle on an informal school to teach American women French cooking. Published in 1961, Mastering the Art of French Cooking became a bestseller and is still considered a seminal culinary work. After appearing on a book review show in 1962, viewers loved CHild’s cooking demonstrations to much that WGBH gave her her own show, The French Chef, which went on to run for ten years, winning Peabody and Emmy awards. She was known for her love of butter, despite criticism from modern day nutritionists. "Everybody is overreacting. If fear of food continues, it will be the death of gastronomy in the United States. Fortunately, the French don't suffer from the same hysteria we do. We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life."

Julia Child went on to publish nearly twenty titles, and the set of her show is now on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. She died just before her 92nd birthday, leaving behind the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and Culinary Arts which provides grants to support the culinary arts and the further development of the professional food world. She was the first woman inducted into the Culinary Arts of America’s Hall of Fame and is credited with revolutionized American cooking for professional chefs and home cooks alike. 

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