Monday, August 06, 2012

A White House Tribute For Julia Child

Merci, Julia: A centennial remembrance...
White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses hails American legend Julia Child as an inspiration for his own career in a post on PBS Food's "Tributes to Julia" site, created to honor what would have been the culinary icon's 100th birthday on August 15th, 2012. In "Happy Birthday From The White House," Yosses lionizes Child as "the queen of cuisine," writing that "her infectious laugh and personality were as influential as her deep knowledge of the principles of good cooking."

Child is credited with introducing French cuisine to America, and Yosses first mastered his craft in France, where he was trained in classical French cooking technique by some of the country's most acclaimed chefs.

"Her memory lives on in everyone she inspired to love good food," Yosses wrote of Child.

Julia Child (née McWilliams) was born on August 15, 1912 in Pasadena, California, and died on August 13, 2004, in Montecito, California, two days before her 92nd birthday. Her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and a long career in television permanently changed American home cooking. Her most notable show, The French Chef, premiered in 1963. PBS is running "Cook for Julia" through August 15th, asking fans to cook favorite Child recipes in celebration of the centennial.

Happy Birthday From The White House
by Bill Yosses, White House Executive Pastry Chef

"Julia Child inspired many chefs in her long career, myself included. And her infectious laugh and personality were as influential as her deep knowledge of the principles of good cooking. She minced onions but no words when it came to those who took kitchen shortcuts or who didn’t fully acquire cooking skills. The best party I ever attended was organized by the ebullient chef Michel Richard in celebration of Julia Child’s 80th birthday in February 1993 in Marina del Rey in California. She had actually turned 80 the year before but no matter, any excuse for a good “fête.”

All the best chefs of France and America came together to cook a wonderful dinner for 500 guests in tribute to her reign as the queen of cuisine. Roger Vergé, Paul Bocuse, Daniel Boulud, and David Bouley were all there, evidence of her influence in France as well as the United States. The chefs knew that she had expanded the audience for fine dining to a huge new segment of the American population.

She was customarily unflustered by the attention, and wanted everyone to know that because she had been eating well prepared food she had lived to 80 and intended to live a lot longer. She did, and was active until the age of 92. For those cooks who ignored the lessons of classic gastronomy she had no patience. “Kiddy food!” she called it. “Grilled. Half of it is burned, half of it is raw.” She spoke that night of a perfectionist spirit, though she knew there was no such thing as perfection , and said she loved a lusty, full flavored dish over a pretty, but tasteless one, and she said; “Everything in moderation…including moderation.”

Her memory lives on in everyone she inspired to love good food. Merci, Julia."


*Photo of Yosses in the White House Kitchen Garden by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama; Child photo courtesy of PBS