PBS celebrates Julia Child’s centenary

I have my share of memories of Julia Child — from watching her truss a bird or flambée a dish in the pan when I was a kid, to that famous picture of her wielding a cleaver overhead, to eventually learning how to cook some of her recipes. For many of us, she’s been around all our lives, either cooking or even as the subject of good-natured parody. (Remember that hilariously bloody Saturday Night Live sketch with Dan Aykroyd playing her?) But make no mistake: Julia’s influence on the world of home cooking can never be overestimated, and we are still coming to grips with her greatness. In recent years, we’ve seen her lionized in both a well-publicized blog and subsequent film; books have been written, and she’s earned her place in the Smithsonian as a venerable American institution. Now the network that brought her to America is celebrating 100 years since her birth with a massive, 10-day, multiplatform initiative encouraging Julia’s fans nationwide to watch, to learn, and to cook.

Things kick off Aug. 5 at PBS Food with the availability of nearly 100 exclusive, limited-time-available episodes of various Julia Child series, including In Julia’s Kitchen With Master Chefs, Cooking With Master Chefs, The French Chef Classics, Baking With Julia, as well as three Cooking in Concert specials. The site promises lots of other Julia-centric content as well, from recipes to articles and even a bit of trivia. “With this multiplatform celebration, we’ve not only created a way for people of any age to explore Julia’s life and legacy,” PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger says, “but we’re also encouraging them to get into the kitchen and cook, which is exactly what Julia would have wanted.”

On the broadcast side, things are set to be no less spectacular, with an encore presentation of Julia Child Memories: Bon Appetit! as well as episodes of The French Chef Classics and even three episodes of The French Chef — one of which hasn’t been broadcast since its initial airing in the 1960s. In the wake of what would have been Julia’s actual 100th birthday on Aug. 15, PBS’ lifestyle channel, Create TV, will host a Julia Child marathon Aug. 18-19.

The whole celebration will be augmented by numerous tributes from established food personalities, producers, food bloggers and fans, whom PBS encourages to submit testimonials, video blogs or other Julia-fed memories. Visit PBS Food to get in on the food, the fun and all of the Julia nostalgia you can handle.


Photo: PBS