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Julia Child: A legacy remembered

Kristina Vragovic

Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian

On her 100th birthday, celebrations include reopened kitchen exhibit at the Smithsonian


Julia Child would have turned 100 years old today, and six years after her death, the late chef continues to influence both the professional and not-so-professional worlds of cooking. She’s even today’s Google doodle.

Chefs in the Boston and Cambridge area, especially, still feel connected to Julia Child, according to the Boston Globe. The area remains particularly friendly to female chefs, for whom Child often served as mentor and champion.

“[Julia Child] bridged the gap between feminism and being herself in the kitchen,” 25-year-old Megan Lozano, a line cook at Hamersley’s Bistro, told the Globe.

The Smithsonian Institution reopened an exhibit today featuring Julia Child’s Cambridge, Mass., kitchen. Child donated her kitchen to the National Museum of American History in 2001, and the exhibit originally opened in 2002. And after receiving a warm response from visitors, it became a permanent attraction. Following a seven-month hiatus for renovations, this new, larger gallery will stay open until September 3.

“A lot of people feel they have been in this kitchen because they’ve seen her and various other chefs in the kitchen cooking,” curator Paula Johnson told CNN. Child’s home kitchen was the set for three of her television series.

Jaques Pépin, a longtime friend of Julia Child and her costar on PBS’ “Julia and Jaques Cooking at Home,” wrote for the New York Times about his memories of the 6-foot-2 chef with the “shrill and warm” voice. Of her kitchen, he recalls that “the whole spacious place exuded friendship, warmth and comfort.”

Johnson, of the Smithsonian, echoed his sentiment. “Just looking at this room and seeing just how homey it is, you really can almost visualize yourself there,” she told CNN.

Fans of Julia Child who aren’t in the D.C. area can celebrate her birthday by attempting a recipe from her famous cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” or by watching the 2009 film “Julie & Julia,” starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Streep received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Child.

Julia Child was born Aug. 15, 1912, in Pasadena, Calif., and died Aug. 13, 2004, in Santa Barbara.

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