Kathryn Rem: Celebrate Julia Child's 100th anniversary
Much like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, Julia Child's considerable celebrity has been ascending since her death in 2004.
Her books -- particularly 1961's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" -- continue to sell briskly; her cooking show "The French Chef" still airs nearly 40 years after it ended a 10-year run; and the 2009 movie "Julie & Julia," starring Meryl Streep, did much to introduce the culinary doyenne to a younger generation.
Now the world is poised to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth on Aug. 15.
Alfred A. Knopf, Child's longtime publisher, is hosting 100 days of tributes and events -- mostly through social media -- that will culminate on the chef's centennial day.
Key to the celebration is JC100, a collection of Child's recipes handpicked by a panel of culinary luminaries chaired by her longtime editor, Judith Jones. Others on the selection committee are chefs and food writers, such as Amanda Hesser, Thomas Keller, Jacques Pepin, Ruth Reichl and Ann Willan. All of the JC100 recipes, chosen from a canon of more than 3,700, come from Child's cookbooks.
Among the 100 are recipes for celery root remoulade, French bread, pate of duck, shirred eggs in black butter sauce, cream puffs, apple charlotte, braised sweetbreads, cheese souffle, boiled leg of lamb with caper sauce, mayonnaise, rabbit stew, coq au vin, salade Niçoise, scalloped potatoes au gratin, stuffed tomatoes, veal shanks braised with wine, roast chicken, croque monsieur, lobster thermidor, creme fraiche, onion soup and, of course, boeuf bourguignon -- which figured prominently in "Julie & Julia."
I met Julia Child once, in 2001. The newspaper I write for, the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., sent me to Chicago to write about the annual International Home + Housewares Show, a closed-to-the-public trade show for retail buyers of home goods. At major trade shows like that, manufacturers often bring in celebrities to demonstrate products or simply schmooze the crowd. (Emeril Lagasse and Heloise were also at that show.)
Cookware-maker All-Clad sponsored Julia Child that year. Eighty-eight years old and unsteady on her feet, she was driven in a golf cart to the sponsor's booth. Using a cane, she walked several steps and then sat down to greet a long line of fans. I stood next to her for several minutes, taking notes as I eavesdropped on her conversations, trying to get some interesting tidbits for my story.
Child was extremely gracious to her fans, who tripped over their words and gushed when they finally got face to face with the culinary icon. She posed for photos, signed autographs and made small talk with her admirers, all with a cheery demeanor and occasional lilting laugh. I remember how surreal it was to hear her distinctive, warbly voice in person.
Julia Child fans are encouraged to go to JC100 sites to get recipes, post tributes and share cooking experiences.
Find the celebration on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/JuliaChild; on Twitter @JC100; on Pinterest at pinterest.com/knopfbooks/jc100; and on Tumblr at jc100.tumblr.com.
Food editor Kathryn Rem can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her via twitter.com/KathrynRemSJR.