Connect ยป Frontburner August 2012

Frontburner August 2012

Special Edition: Tributes to Julia Child on Her 100th Birthday

We knew and loved her ... Now members share memories of their encounters with the most cherished icon of the cooking world.

Letter from the President
2013 Conference Update
Julia Legacy Awards Contest
Member Milestones
State of Grace: A Few More Weeks to Renew

Sixty-two years ago, when Julia McWilliams Child enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she surely had no idea that she was about to change the world.

Yet her culinary training was the first step in a remarkable career --  as the author of arguably the most influential cookbook in the world, as a pioneer in television, and as the inspiration for many, many thousands of cooking professionals. And because she’s Julia, she did it with grace, intelligence, humor, and respect, making her accomplishments all the more admirable.
    Julia Child was a champion of the IACP and many of our members had the good fortune to meet, work with, and learn from her. At this 100th anniversary of Julia’s birthday, they share their memories in this special edition of Frontburner. Thanks to all the contributors, and let’s continue the tribute by posting more special thoughts on the IACP blog.
– Domenica Marchetti and Antonia Allegra, Special-Issue Editors

The First Time I Met Julia
Side by Side with Julia
Light-Hearted Julia
Julia as Mentor
Julia as Food Pro

The First Time I Met Julia

Inspired by a shared meal and laughter


    My mother Bonnie used to watch Julia Child on “The French Chef.” Julia dropped chickens, leaned back, belly-laughed, and cooDavid Joachim and Julia Childked French food that American housewives aspired to make. I must have been 6 or 7 years old at the time. This was the mid-1970s. My grandmother Beatrice also cooked from Julia's books for holidays and weekend parties. Her copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking was dog-eared, sauce-splattered, and well-loved with frayed hardcover corners and a torn dust jacket.
    As a kid, I had no idea I would end up in the culinary field. Even in my 20s, I had no idea what I was doing with my life. Yet in 1992, at age 25, after years of dishwashing, prepping, and cooking–almost by rote–then seeking a better life as a college English teacher, I slowly got sucked back into the pleasurable vortex of the food world. In 1996, I attended the Symposium for Professional Food Writers at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV, for the first time.   > MORE

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New venture given Julia’s seal of approval


    I entered the culinary world, somewhat unexpectedly given my marketing background, in the summer of 1995 when I acquired what was then Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School from the Kump family, following his passing.  Of course, Peter and Julia were close friends and collaborated to start the James Beard Foundation.  As Peter’s health slipped that summer, he planned a number of things, including his own culinary memorial service.
    The service was at St. John the Divine Cathedral on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In true Peter Kump form, he had chosen the chefs and authors that he wanted to cook, and even the comfort food dishes they would prepare.  During the reception, Jean Willensky, then head of PR for the James Beard Foundation, came over to my wife and me and said, “Julia Child would like to meet you.”  We walked over to Julia. Her words were, “Rick, so you are the person who will be running Peter’s school.  I have heard nice things about you, and I wish you the very best of luck.”  Armed with her seal of approval, I then went off to learn a new business, and start what has now been a rewarding 16-year career with the culinary institute.  I learned thereafter that one of Julia’s many gifts was her ability to encourage people to pursue their dreams and ambitions.  > MORE

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Great burgers and the art of kindness


    I first met Julia in the spring of 1982, when I was a novice cooking school director and IACP was in its infancy. My job earned me the privilege of being a kitchen/scullery assistant for Julia at the annual Los Angeles Planned Parenthood three-day Gourmet Gala extravaganza at the Riviera Country Club. (Those were the days: three (!) full days of tastings, drop-in demos –sugar- and Chinese-noodle pulling—and three daytime plus one gala evening class with the guest chef.)
    The menus were composed of such dishes as bouillabaisse des pêcheurs and paupiette de boeuf “gargantua,” but the refrigerator was also stocked with ingredients for Julia’s après-class meals. I recall in particular calves’ brains and chuck stew meat. At the end of each class, Julia graciously chatted with the multitudes who queued up to have their books signed while we, the kitchen staff, cleared up.  One day as I cleaned, Julia asked me to fetch the chuck stew and grind it for hamburgers. Mind you, I was a self-taught young thing making it up as I went along and had never before used a KitchenAid meat grinder.  > MORE

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Plans derailed by Julia’s warmth


    In the spring of 1984, less than a year after I began a new career as a food writer for The Stars and Stripes newspaper in Europe, the editor sent me from my home base in Munich, Germany, to interview Julia Child in Paris.
    I was both elated and apprehensive.  It was highly unusual for a freelancer, even one with a weekly column in the paper, to get such a plum assignment, all expenses paid.  Suddenly I was being sent to France to meet the great Julia Child!
    Our meeting was scheduled for late afternoon at La Varenne Cooking School.  I had purchased a mini tape recorder just for the occasion, and my husband, Tom, an experienced photographer, had brought along both of our Nikons to take pictures while Julia Child and I were talking.
    Nothing went as planned.
    The interview started late because Julia was still lunching with friends.  Finally she came striding through the kitchen at La Varenne, and her assistant ushered us into a tiny room in the back, barely large enough for Julia, a table, Tom, and me.  > MORE

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A treasured scolding by Julia


    I was a first-time attendee at The Greenbrier annual Symposium for Professional Food Writers in 1996. Symposium host Toni Allegra encouraged me to sit next to Julia at the dinner, and what a heartwarming way to start out. I forgot how famous Julia was and just thoroughly enjoyed talking to her and relating to her—and she related to everyone at the table.  Most endearing was when she yelled at me during the dinner. I had asked her how she liked her duck.  “Not too good,” she said. My duck, however, was pretty good. I told her that it wasn’t greasy, and that’s when she let me have it: “That’s not a proper culinary term—the word is FAT!” she bellowed.  I loved it—it was like a favorite aunt who cared about you enough to scold you. That was the first of many of my close encounters of the Julia kind over the next several years. I eventually fell in love with Julia and started thinking about asking her to marry me. But the reality hit me that it would never work; she needed a much younger man—I could have never kept up with her! 

Scott Warner is an emeritus member of IACP, Chicago-based freelance food writer, and program chair for the Culinary Historians of Chicago  (

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A congratulatory call closes the circle


    In the early 1960s, as a young bride who couldn’t afford a television, I traveled two hours once a week to watch Julia in a dorm lounge at Temple University in Philadelphia where my husband was going to night school. I never would have imagined that someday I would meet Julia in person or that someday I would have a television baking show of my own.
    I met Julia for the first time at an IACP conference and saw her many times at many different events around the country and even at an IACP regional meeting in Paris. She was so friendly and gracious, but I never lost my awe of her.
    The most amazing validation of my career was when Julia called me in the fall of 1988 after I appeared on the Today Show for the publication of The Cake Bible, saying: “Congratulations, dearie—I’m so proud of you”! And that was the day I was about to head back to Philadelphia for a book signing for the first time in all those years after having gone there to watch Julia. I felt in that moment that life had come a complete circle. I’ll cherish this memory for the rest of my life.

Rose Levy Beranbaum is an IACP award-winning cookbook author and journalist  (

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Inspiring confidence beyond the kitchen


    It was my first job. I was a twenty-something editorial assistant at Diversion, a travel and food magazine. Winter, 1977, and my boss called me into his office to say that Julia Child was in town, did I want to go do a quick interview?
    I had just returned from a year at Le Cordon Bleu in London and was devouring Mastering the Art and Julia’s television shows, trying to hone my skills. I wanted nothing more than to be a writer. Did I want to interview Julia Child? When I was ten, I wanted to meet Julie Andrews more than anything in the world. At sixteen, it was Mick Jagger. But at that moment in my life, there was no one I’d rather meet than Julia.
    We were scheduled to meet in a hotel room in midtown Manhattan. I had my list of questions. I had done my homework. I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you what that hotel room looked like, or give you a blow-by-blow of our 30-minutes together, but there are several things about meeting Julia for the first time that I will never forget.  > MORE

Side By Side With Julia

A life enriched by Julia’s friendship


    I met Julia in Paris in the late 1970s when I was a student at L’Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne during one of her regular visits to the school. I stood in line – a scene I would see repeated countless times and always handled by Julia with the same graciousness and communicating the same genuine interest in those who braved the wait – until I had my moment with her.
    After handing her my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking to sign, she gave me something far more meaningful than an autograph. After a quick hello and brief introduction, she pronounced, “You’re in the right place at the right time for a woman.” It was such a profound statement that I looked around to make sure she’d addressed me.
    I realize, in retrospect, Julia knew that the culture of cooking in America she’d helped create, along with the professions that would become part of it, had taken hold. She understood that those of us following our passions, wanting to be part of it, would have opportunities – in large measure because she'd tirelessly followed her own passions.  > MORE

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She reached for a hand and took our hearts


    Julia was a CLASS ACT in my book and remained so to the end of her life. In the months that followed our chance meeting, she remembered me when we would meet in Santa Barbara. A real friendship evolved that lasted until her death in 2004. During those twenty or so years, I witnessed her interaction with friends and with strangers. She was consistently approachable and appreciative of the attention and respect given to her.  I also had the chance to see her compassion and concern for those she encountered whose lives were coming unraveled. She did not suffer fools gladly but she didn’t hesitate to involve herself in the plight of her fellow human beings, if she felt her efforts could assist. She was supportive of a vast range of people in need, those with hopes and dreams, as well as those who had neither hope nor dreams.
    1995 was still a time of dashed hopes and dreams for many. The AIDS epidemic remained a grim illness with sad prognosis for the diagnosed. For three years during that time, I worked in a kitchen that provided weekly meals for homebound AIDS patients. We worked from mostly donated foods with a budget that was minimal. The heart of this program’s success was a cadre of volunteers who loyally showed up week after week to prepare the foods that were then delivered to individual homes. Some of the volunteers were also suffering from AIDS or at least were diagnosed as HIV+. We came to feel that somehow we were infusing the food with our caring and our love.  Our enthusiasm was dauntless.  > MORE

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Escorting Julia, complete with Martinis


    It’s fair to say that during the early beginnings of IACP, it was easy to rub shoulders with each member. We were a small but strong group at that time, and though we each had our own special strengths, we never seemed to have difficulties in finding common ground. And Julia was always there, rooting for each of us, exotic culinary animals one and all, she just as different and singular as the rest of us. These are all good memories now.
    My first tangles with Julia were in the early stages of the development of the (then named) IACS Foundation. We held a live auction for several years, complete with an auctioneer. Julia, Jacques, et al held their own on stage, helping sell culinary items of varying values to IACP members to raise cash for what was then our infant scholarship program.
    Since Julia’s husband Paul was not always in attendance and later too ill to attend, it was deemed someone should escort Julia through the whirling, noisy riot the auction had become during that time. I was tall and affiliated with the Foundation, so I was Volunteer au Natural. This meant sitting with her and chatting up a storm.  > MORE

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The pleasure of being second to Julia


    During two IACP conferences, I was lucky enough to sit next to Julia Child during the book signing events (my last name begins with “B” and hers with “C”). I had a few people waiting for me to sign copies of my books, but Julia had huge lines of people waiting.  After signing my books, I became her assistant, opening her books to the page for her to sign them. She was so gracious and cheerful, thanking me for my help.
    At the first IACP conference I attended (Los Angeles, 1987), both Julia and Paul Child signed my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That book is one of the treasures of my collection.

Carole Bloom is a pastry chef and confectioner, teacher, and author of 10 dessert cookbooks, including, most recently, Intensely Chocolate.

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A very good dinner in the kitchen


    It is well known that Julia shared a special friendship with Chef Jacques Pepin, especially in her later years. The following is excerpted from Pepin’s memoir, The Apprentice: My Life In the Kitchen, in which the chef recalls the first time he and his wife, Gloria, were invited to Julia and Paul Child’s Cambridge home for dinner:
    "First there was Julia’s height; she all but had a foot on me. Then there’s the voice, that trilled warble as instantly recognizable as the speaker herself…We entered through the back door, which was the real entrance to the house, and led, fittingly, directly into the kitchen.
    Julia enveloped both of us simultaneously in a big bear hug. This was somewhat awkward. If you allow for the considerable difference in our heights, you can guess approximately where my face fit when she wrapped me in her arms.  > MORE

Light-Hearted Julia

Frankness as a key ingredient


[Excerpted from IACP Food Forum, 2004 Fourth Quarter Issue]
    Dropping by her kitchen one day, I found an animated Julia in the middle of an experiment, surrounded by at least a half-dozen bread machines all whirring noisily way. Famous for her love of gadgets, she was also protective of them, as I soon found out. "You’re just in time to have a taste," she said to me as she hacked off a piece of a loaf that was cooling nearby and handed it to me to eat. "What do you think?" she queried. "A little too yeasty," I honestly replied. With a dismissive wave of her hand she replied, "What do you know!"
    Blurting out exactly what she was thinking was one of the keys to Julia’s television success, as viewers discovered when she famously dropped a potato pancake, then recommended we follow her example and pick it up and serve it, for who would be the wiser? She was always advising people to enjoy themselves, and knew that cooking and eating good food was all about the pleasures of being with good friends and family.

Barbara Haber is a past IACP director, food historian, and the former curator of books at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University.

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A confidence that made her welcome everywhere


    After spending the night at Julia's Cambridge home, Nancy Harris (IACP president 1989), Julia, and I embarked on a road trip to the New England Culinary Institute for a board meeting. Before leaving, Julia went to have her hair coiffed and she asked Nancy and me to make a brown bag lunch while she was gone. Mid-morning, we departed in Julia’s beat-up red Volvo and had a lovely time tooling along the freeway. 
    About noon, Julia announced she was hungry and suggested we pull into the next McDonald's for drinks to go with our sandwiches. Obediently, we did so, but, frankly, I was mortified that we were going to take our own food into a restaurant.
    Of course, when we walked in, everyone's jaw dropped when they saw Julia.  Lunch bag in hand, Julia announced that we were going to buy drinks and some of their delicious French fries, but she did tell the manager with a smile that McDonald's fries were better when they were made with real lard – not the newer, healthier fat!

Barbara Pool Fenzi is the proprietor of Les Gourmettes Cooking School in Phoenix, AZ, and a past president of IACP.

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Menus and merriment


    We celebrate Julia’s birthday every year at our restaurant and bed-and-breakfast. Last year, not only did I dress up as Julia for a Julia-inspired cooking class, but my husband appeared as Julia in the middle of dinner for a little comic relief. Past menus have included everything from Julia’s Vichyssoise and Beef Bourguignon to the Pâté à Canard and homemade sausages from her cookbook. Here is a sample of one of the years:
* Julia’s Traditional Omelette
* Gâteau d’Omelettes avec Pipérades et Champignons
* Fricasée de Poulet à l’Ancienne
* Potato Galette
* Reine de Saba Cake

Monika Sudakov is owner and chef of award-winning Chestnut Street Inn, Sheffield, IL

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The lasting flavor of a perfect peach


I sent Julia Frog Hollow peaches on her birthday for a number of years. She wanted enough for the annual family reunion on her birthday sent to the resort in Maine where they stayed. A few days before she died, when she was in the assisted care facility in Santa Barbara, I asked her if she was ready for her birthday peaches. (She was getting very feeble). "Yes. Absolutely! Thank you very much.” They arrived the day she died. Unfortunately her last taste wasn't a glorious peach. Too bad. A birthday party planned for her went on anyway. How could it not? Jim Dodge made a birthday cake out of the peaches. I heard it was heavenly.

Jon Rowley is an explorer in excellence in food and wine taste and quality.

Julia as Mentor

Always guided us to what matters most


    I remember with total clarity when Julia and I first got together—it was more than 40 years ago and I was eight months pregnant with our daughter and Julia came to dinner. We had cheese soufflé, roast leg of lamb, gratin dauphinois, and doboschtorte, and we began with homemade country pâté. As soon as Julia walked in she said, “My, that looks good,” and cut herself a slice. I've never forgotten that gesture—Julia had that gift of instant communication, a warmth and sincerity which is never forgotten.
    Julia went on to be godmother to us at La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, bringing Jim Beard and Simca [Simone Beck] with her. In those early days, Julia kept up our morale. “I know you're needed,” she would say. “Don't let those French bureaucrats get you down!"
    Julia was wonderfully generous, and she did not hesitate to temper kindness with trenchant advice. I always want to do things too quickly. At a book signing she once said to me, “It's no good signing a book, dear, if you can't read the signature.”  > MORE

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Kind words that made a difference


    My favorite memory of Julia comes from Venice in the fall of 1998.  Julia and Anne Willan were there to present a weeklong cooking program billed as "La Varenne at the Hotel Cipriani with Julia Child," and I had come along as the kitchen liaison. My job was to prep and assist during classes and to coordinate with the hotel kitchen.
    When I signed on, I expected plenty of long hours and hard work, but it seemed like a tremendous opportunity. What I hadn't anticipated was that I would first drive a carload of pots and pans down to Venice from Burgundy so that every morning I could set up our makeshift La Varenne kitchen in a tent erected in the hotel courtyard. At the end of the second day of classes, I had a run-in with the young hotel kitchen steward who was assigned to help me schlepp all our equipment back and forth to a secure spot in the hotel.  > MORE

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Early advice that launched a career


    The day I met Julia Child, in June, 1971, my last day at Le Cordon Bleu in London, she toured the school and reviewed the results of our final exams. I was brought out to meet her, as I was the only American student in the Advanced Certificate class graduating that day.  I had never heard of her, as I had been living in London for a couple of years. I had never seen a cooking show on television.  In spite of my ignorance, I was drawn to the commanding presence of this woman. Later, on Marylebone Lane in London in front of Le Cordon Bleu, I ran into her and asked her what I should do with the rest of my life.
    She answered, “Teach cooking.  Open a cooking school. We need cooking schools in America.”  I never forgot the advice given to me by this stranger who had only known me five minutes.  I had no idea how to teach anything, much less teach cooking. She had other advice: “Learn from anyone who knows one thing you don’t know” and, “Never apologize.”  I have tried to adhere to the learning, but have not conquered, “Never apologize.”  Julia was one of a kind, a master teacher.  > MORE

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Fan letter led to networking


    It’s hard to narrow to one story about Julia Child because there are so many. She influenced my cooking long before we became acquainted – and then I was lucky to know her for many years. My kitty was named for her. Actually, I cannot imagine what my world would be like if there had been no Julia Child.  Here’s my anecdote:
    I had just moved to Boston in 1984 and was establishing myself as a caterer and culinary educator. One spring day my crew made my Seafood Pasta Salad with Pesto dressing for a luncheon event we were doing. As my sous chef lidded a container of salad, she remarked that it was so good it was too bad we couldn’t serve it to Julia Child.
    My maitre d’ heard her and later suggested I should invite Julia for lunch. Why not?  So I wrote her a fan letter doing just that.  She wrote me back that she was getting ready to go to Maine for the summer, but told me I should join the Women’s Culinary Guild, where we could get together (and I could meet lots of other chefs and cooking teachers) in the Fall. She listed the name of the current president and her phone number. I followed up and soon found myself a member, and because Julia was my sponsor, they were waiving the “two-sponsor” requirement. I felt elated! I met Julia that fall, and, like everyone else who knew her, spent the next 20 years captivated by her down-to-earth persona and her generous spirit.

June Jacobs is President and Executive Chef of Feastivals, and a past president of IACP (

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She always shared it all


    Even before I lived in Santa Barbara, Julia's 'other' hometown, I was lucky to know her. It started when she taught at the cooking school I ran for Ma Maison restaurant in the 1980s, and with the ubiquitous invitation to come up to Santa Barbara for lunch.  The relationship blossomed with our participation in the IACP and the American Institute of Wine and Food and, when I moved to Santa Barbara in the early 1990s, grew to a lovely friendship.
    Julia was my friend, and I would also call her my mentor. I learned so much from her, and not just about cooking. It impressed me how she interacted with people, whether we were standing in line to go to the movies or dining at a fine restaurant. She was honest and interested in everyone, and especially sweet with my family. I love that I got to cook for her a few times. I wish it could have been more. I wish I could cook for her now. There is a photo floating around of her sticking her finger in the pots on top of my old O'Keefe & Merritt stove. The photo was hanging at a Santa Barbara restaurant (in the men’s room!) for years, but has now disappeared. I wish I could have a copy of that.  > MORE

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Opportunity, and a gift that lasted a lifetime


    My not-so-secret dream when I was in college was to go to cooking school. But I was pursuing what I thought was more legitimate study: a four-year degree in science. As a chemistry major I had higher aspirations for a career in medical research. But I was working my way through school in the garde manger of a private club kitchen, at a French cookware store selling (and buying) high-end culinary tools, assisting traveling cooking teachers, and even catering cocktail parties for my parents’ friends. Finally recognizing my unhappiness at school, my mom asked me what I really liked? My immediate reply: “To cook.” So she steered me to the school of home economics, where all my science credits transferred into a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and food science (a consumer service-based version) in 1981.
    I landed a job in a large corporate test kitchen—but not before grudgingly filling out an application for an “international culinary fellowship” my mom had found in one of many cooking magazines she'd strewn about our family room. I never thought I had a snowball’s chance of getting it, but gathered letters of reference from my college advisor and the chef I worked for and mailed it in—minutes before moving halfway across the country. > MORE

Julia as Food Pro

A shared passion for oysters, and a priceless lesson in respect


    It was circa 1990, and I had just finished culinary school and was working at my first job at The Plaza hotel restaurant, The Oyster Bar. My first position was in garde manger, and my duties included opening thousands of oysters per week. I became very fast, 24 oysters per minute. I actually won a competition to represent the United States in the Guinness World Oyster Competition in Helsinki, Finland.
    I went to Fred Bridge Kitchenware on the east side of New York to get a new French oyster knife for the competition. Much to my amazement, Julia Child happened to be shopping at the store. I knew from working at The Plaza that it was an absolute no-no to speak to celebrities and ask for autographs, etc. I asked Mrs. Bridge if it was indeed Julia Child and she confirmed it was. Mrs. Bridge suggested I introduce myself and ask for an autograph. I explained the protocol at my job and she said in this instance Julia would be flattered.
    So I walked up and cordially introduced myself as an aspiring young chef, fresh out of school, and working at The Plaza hotel oyster bar.  > MORE

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Unflustered by improvisation


    Julia Child was a founding member and fervent supporter of the New York Association of Cooking Teachers (NYACT). She was extremely generous with her time and her expertise to our organization, and as an ardent admirer, I would never miss an opportunity to attend any event in which Julia was present.
    In the spring of 1997, when Julia was a spry 85, her biography Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child (1997) was just out. She was set to appear at the Short Hills shopping Center in New Jersey and had agreed that she could also do a late afternoon "conversation" gathering for our NYACT group.
    It didn't matter that I was in the midst of being the consultant for and opening manager of a new artisanal bakery in Princeton NJ, that my working day started at 6 a.m. and sometimes ended at 8 or 9 p.m. I let my pastry baker know that this was a not-to-be-missed gathering and that if we worked very hard there shouldn't be a problem with our leaving at 4 p.m. for the 5 p.m. gathering.   > MORE

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Even Julia started at the beginning


[From Joan Reardon: “Below is the Postscript from Julia Child's letter to Simone Beck, May 14, 1961, when Julia and Paul Child were living in Oslo, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking was just accepted by Knopf:]

Julia’s letter to Simone Beck: 
“PS:  I must say I think this book of ours is MARVELOUS. It tells so much, and has so many wonderful recipes. I am struck all over again what a remarkable book I think it is.  And I think of all those years of struggle you have had ALL ALONE when collaborating with L. [Louisette Bertholle] on your first gigantic MS [manuscript].  But those years were not wasted, because look at all the wonderful things you discovered, and the great recipes. My, I do hope others will feel the same way we do about it!
    Another wonderful thing is that you managed to get us this monthly recipe in C&V ["Cuisine et Vin"].  The timing is perfect, and we couldn't be in a better place--and we are now not UNKNOWN WRITERS. That was a great piece of work, ma grande piece de boeuf.”

Joan Reardon is a culinary historian; author of  M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child and Alice Waters: Celebrating the Pleasures of the Table and other biographies of food and wine leaders.

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Steered me to IACP


    I "met" Julia through her niece Julia Prudhomme, a dear friend of mine. I was back from living in Australia, where I'd been working as a singing chef. I was out having a drink with Julia P. and I told her I was trying to find my place in the American food community. Julia P. said I should ask her aunt. So she asked her on my behalf (or maybe I wrote Julia). Julia wrote me a letter telling me to join IACP, so I did. My first conference was in Montreal. I still have the letter.
    I also had the privilege of staying in the house on a stunning peninsula on Mount Desert Island that Paul Child and his brother built. It started as one room and had extensions GALORE! It was fun to cook in a kitchen that Julia had cooked in. I don't know if I would have found IACP without Julia.

Jackie Gordon is a food business coach and singing chef  (

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A well-timed vote of confidence


    Like many home and professional cooks of a certain age, I credit Julia among my earliest sources of inspiration. So, when she plunked herself down in the chair next to mine at lunch during the Symposium for Professional Food Writers at The Greenbrier in 1995, she became the meal’s principal ingredient.
    Julia could not have been more attentive as I described my first book concept. "A potluck book," she warbled. "What a perfectly marvelous idea. So often you just don't know what to do with that remaining leg of lamb after you’ve served dinner." No matter that my book was vegetarian and not focused on repurposing leftovers. Her zeal healed the scars of countless rejection letters. Julia invited me to mail her my proposal, and a few weeks later an enthusiastic letter arrived back. She was certain the book would do very well. There were just two problems. The first was that her letter was not to be shared, dashing my hopes of using it to persuade a publisher.
    That made the second problem less important: the letter was addressed not to Jennie Schacht but to "Jennie Stalactite." With a flick of spell-check’s correction fluid, I was transformed into a potluck-frenzied pillar of groundwater deposits hanging from the ceiling of some limestone cave. Seven books later—though that first concept never went to print—I can attest that Julia's vote of confidence was all I needed. 

Author of Farmers' Markets Desserts and the upcoming i scream SANDWICH!; co-author of many books with chefs, pastry chefs, and others; cookbook consultant  (

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Missed an opportunity, but found a passion


    The first and only time in my life I was anywhere near Julia Child, I had no idea who she was. I worked as a freelance journalist for German magazines, reporting on technology and society, and was attending one of my first IACP conferences. Ambitious to add food writing to my roster of skills, I sat eating breakfast at a big round wooden table—all by myself.
     I was without company because I didn’t know a soul, but also because I’m painfully shy and will join others only if gently nudged on. This shyness is especially pronounced at the inhuman hour of 7:30 a.m. when I still consider myself a private person. Yet, despite the early hour, at the table next to me there was a major ruckus going on.
    When I looked over my shoulder, I saw a gray-haired lady of, how would one say, sturdy build and memorable height, sitting tall. She had the demeanor of a friendly grandma, but with a certain dry humor in her eyes, someone who could easily make everyone laugh. She too had breakfast in front of her, but there was no way she could take a bite as she was surrounded by a group of extremely energetic women clamoring for her attention at once.  > MORE

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The chance to cook in her kitchen


    About a month before Julia left Cambridge for Santa Barbara and hours before her kitchen was dismantled, headed for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, she hosted a Boston University Special Programs event entitled “Notable Women: A Soiree.” Recent knee surgery did not deter her from being the most gracious of hosts for the event dedicated to women artists, writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, chefs, sommeliers, and winemakers.
    Notable women indeed! Along with Julia as host, there was Erica Hirshler, a Museum of Fine Arts, Boston curator who previewed the museum’s upcoming show of women artists. The world-renowned pianist, Virginia Eskin, performed works by women composers. Chef-restaurateur Johanne Killeen prepared dinner, and sommelier Jeannie Rogers selected and poured wines from women vintners. Julia’s most loyal and longtime assistant, Stephanie Hersh, made dessert.
    I was the gastronomy grad student happily recruited to help with everything from schlepping and set-up to serving and clean up. Imagine doing dishes in Julia’s kitchen. Or, putting a leaf in her dining table the wrong way.  > MORE

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Always encouraged the pursuit of cooking


    I always wanted to study the culinary arts. In 1991 I wrote to Julia Child to ask to have a picture taken with her and meet her. She wrote back that she didn't have time to have a picture taken, but she took the time to write back and send an autographed picture. Her last sentence mentioned that she hoped that I would study the culinary arts.
   Fast-forward 20 years. I found myself laid off from a 20-year career as an Executive Assistant, so I applied and was accepted to Le Cordon Bleu. I am now a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu with a Degree in Baking and Patisserie (3.45GPA) and a Leadership Award. I have the letter and picture from Julia hanging in my kitchen for inspiration. I am working on my second cookbook and even have a book for sale on iTunes entitled The New Majordomo, which promotes good ethics as the Head Chef. Thank you Julia!!!!

John Tirrell is Executive Pastry Chef of Crescent Suites Hotel, Waltham Massachusetts; author of The New Majordomo, which encourages good ethics in the role as a Chef and Personal Assistant; and new member of the IACP  (

Developing a New Recipe for Success

    These are days of unprecedented opportunity for culinary professionals – and unprecedented challenge. The ingredients that many of us combined so well for so long to build our brands -- including culinary education, print publishing, and television -- aren’t as easy to combine profitably. Our new "pantry" -- including web-based publishing, artisan products and services, live events, and social-purpose enterprises -- is still being tested.
    Whether you’re a veteran or a novice, it’s challenging to develop your own recipe for success, which makes the IACP’s promise -- to connect you with the people, places, and knowledge you need to succeed – more relevant than ever. Several successive IACP boards of directors and leadership have spent the past few years in a bit of recipe development of our own to make sure we keep our core promise to our members.  Our recipe:
    Assemble every conceivable type of culinary professional. Think: the mise en place at the United Nations cafeteria. Now that there is an organization, website or event dedicated to nearly every individual professional interest that the culinary boom has spawned, culinary media, sponsors and potential co-venturers – in short, our membership and all who want to reach us -- have increasing opportunities to target narrowly, but few opportunities to get together with all of us at once.
    Mix well. Don’t overbeat. Use a large bowl. As many of you who have made career-altering connections at our Annual Conference know, some of the best connections result from chance encounters.  In recent years we have been reengineering conference to make sure that it attracts more of the people you want to meet, and that they can showcase the many facets of their professional lives. We’ve spiced up our conferences by going to cities with larger local populations of culinary professionals, media, and sponsors, and by showing you more of these must-see culinary destinations than the conference center in a hotel.  It’s always tricky to achieve the right balance, but we’re on target for our best effort yet in 2013 in San Francisco.
    Bake for a year.  While the ingredients come together at our Annual Conference, our year-long offerings of regional conferences, speaker series, new and improved website, and social media channels provide the opportunity for initial connections to develop into real professional relationships.
    Serve nimbly and knowledgably. For years, IACP has had a professional management company in charge of daily operations.  This year, we have changed our operating model and built our own team, composed of culinary professionals who understand our industry intimately, understand industry opportunities and challenges as we do, and understand IACP’s need to serve you more nimbly and knowledgeably.  Our new Executive Director, Meredith Deeds, appreciates that in volunteer organizations like ours, many great ideas and capabilities come and go with each year, and that our challenge is to institutionalize what we learn and build on it to constantly improve our performance.  Along with Judith Klinger, Director of Operations, applying her business background to improving all aspects of our execution, and Martha Holmberg, Director of Communications, bringing her editorial experience to improving our programming processes and products, we have an executive staff constructed solely to serve IACP’s mission.  Meredith, Martha and Judith are in turn supported by Shani Phelan, the voice you’ll most likely hear when you call IACP or read in reply to a written request, and by Laura Atkinson, the brains and flying fingers behind many of our daily communications.
    Like any recipe development, the job isn’t finished until it has been tested.  This is the most critical part of the process, and the one we can’t do without you.     – Doug Duda


Our San Francisco conference is starting to take shape. Time to get informed, get involved, and get inspired!

A Message from Julie Usher, 2013 Annual Conference Chair:
    It may sound cliché, but it’s true: I left my heart in San Francisco when I moved from that city to St. Louis almost 20 years ago. But I took with me the inspiration for my current career in food. I wasn’t a culinary professional when I lived in San Francisco, but my amazing Bay Area food experiences ignited my own passion, and I enrolled in culinary school as soon as I moved.
    San Francisco remains unparalleled in its access to those shaping the world of food, and IACP is fortunate to have the city as its host. Since our first conference under self-management in New York, IACP staff, Doug Duda (New York Conference Chair), other Board members, and I have been actively revisiting our conference practices and procedures, with the aim of building on lessons learned, optimizing the experience for our volunteers, and making San Francisco conference a stand-out for our members and sponsors.
    We’ve made some exciting changes based on this analysis, including hiring staff to fill our previously all-volunteer Program and Host City Chair roles. We feel this will provide stability and continuity, while creating more manageable leadership roles for those volunteer members serving on the Host and Program committees. The IACP Board is happy to announce that Martha Holmberg and Judith Klinger, our newly hired Communications Director and Operations Director, respectively, will serve in these Chair roles going forward.
    As this year’s Annual Conference Chair, I will support Meredith Deeds, IACP’s Executive Director, in making sure that conference programming and activities meet IACP’s larger strategic objectives, and that our many generous volunteers, our sponsors, and of course all our conference attendees are inspired and satisfied by their San Francisco experience.
    We’ll keep you informed of conference developments, through Frontburner, facebook, and the IACP blog, so please check in often to share in our exciting updates.


Date: April 6 – 9, 2013
City: San Francisco, CA
Hotel: The Hyatt Regency Embarcadero
Theme: Dirt to Digital, Real Food in a Virtual World
How to volunteer: Sign up here, and let us know what you’d like to do
Call for proposals (for both session ideas and special tour ideas): Now open, deadline September 17

Legacy of Julia Child Awards Contest

    In the weeks building toward Julia Child’s 100th birthday, we’ve all been pleasantly absorbed by thoughts of Julia. Her pioneering spirit, her food, her books and television--everything that contributes to her special legacy. All the Julia love is perfect inspiration for entering IACP’s new Julia Child contest.
    The Awards Division is pleased to announce the Legacy of Julia Child Awards, a one-time IACP writing, food styling, and photography contest to honor and celebrate Julia Child’s contribution to the culinary landscape.
    You’ll find all the details here. And get moving, because the deadline is September 21, 2012.


•• Pursuing Twin Passions for Teaching and Cooking

Wynton Mann M.Ed, CCP, Cary, NC – Wynton recently passed his CCP certification exam, adding Certified Culinary Professional to his masters in education credentials. Wynton is the founder of Wynton’s World, a center offering educational programs for teens and adults, focusing on international language and culture. Chef Wynton studied in Salamanca, Spain before spending nearly 10 years traveling to Spanish-speaking countries, immersing himself in the life, food and culture. While in Mexico, he met his wife, a graphic designer with an online business creating cupcake toppers sold all over the world. Wynton is working on his first book, about the flavors of Latin cuisine, and has plans to add another set of initials to his name – he hopes to earn his PhD in education within five years.

•• CCP Achieved, Just in Time for Julia

Monika Sudakov, MA, CCP, Sheffield IL –  Monika is happy to report that she passed her CCP certification exam and can now add CCP to her name. Monika’s earlier studies included a BA in French, a BFA in Theater, and a Master’s in cultural anthropology, with an emphasis in gastroanthropology. She has been in the hospitality business for eight years, as co-owner with her husband of Chestnut Street Inn, in Sheffield, a bed-and-breakfast and restaurant specializing in Mediterranean-inspired cuisine using locally-grown food. She also teaches cooking classes and is a regular on the local NBC affiliate. Monika studied for the CCP exam for about eight months. Her goal was to be certified before Julia’s 100th birthday. Goal achieved!

•• Great Chef Wants Great Food for Everyone

Cathy Whims, chef/owner Nostrana and Oven and Shaker, Portland, OR – Cathy has been active in working toward better food systems. She played a key role in the successful Congressional lobbying campaign that resulted in new Farm Bill provisions.  The new proposed amendment allows SNAP coupons to have double value when used to buy fresh produce. Cathy also took part in the James Beard Foundation’s Boot Camp for Policy and Change, early in July at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.

•• 30 Years, 13 Miles, $25,000 for a Charity

Lisa Ekus, Sally Ekus – The Lisa Ekus Group is celebrating their 30-year anniversary. The company, which began as the first culinary-only public relations agency, has grown into a full-service culinary agency that offers media training, public relations, consulting, and literary agency services.
    To celebrate this milestone, the firm has formed a team (Sally Ekus, Corinne Fay, David Abrami) who will compete in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, October 14, 2012. Sally Ekus was diagnosed with childhood leukemia, and this year is also a milestone for her: 25 years of being cancer-free. The team has a goal of raising $25K for the charity, and will happily accept donations!

•• A Lifetime’s Journey Through Asia Begets a Book Deal

Dahlia Abraham Klein – Dahlia has just signed her first book deal, with Tuttle Publishing, a multi-category publisher with a special focus on Asian topics. Dahlia’s book is called “Silk & Spice": Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes from the Silk Road for the Mindful Vegetarian; publication date is Fall 2013. Dahlia lives in New York, but has traveled extensively throughout Central Asia; she blogs at Veggies, Spice and Everything Rice, and is a contributor to

•• Where Cooking Feeds More Than Simple Appetites

Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen, Seattle, WA – Pranee has been sharing her culinary expertise by cooking for homeless youth as a volunteer at Youth Care, a Seattle organization that helps develop self-sufficiency for homeless youth by providing outreach, basic services, emergency shelter, housing, counseling, education, and employment training. When she’s not volunteering, Pranee works as a caterer, cooking instructor, and tour guide, leading culinary tours to her homeland of Thailand. She blogs at Pranee's Thai Kitchen.

State of Grace: A Few More Weeks to Renew

Thanks to all of you who have renewed your membership, and a gentle nudge to those of you who have not yet renewed. The annual renewal cycle ended June 30, but we're extending a grace period -- in which you won't be required to pay the $50 re-instatement fee -- to September 30. Please take a moment to renew your membership, stay in the community, and be ready for the exciting developments of the coming year!

About Frontburner

    Frontburner is the monthly e-zine of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). IACP assumes no responsibility for statements and opinions expressed by contributors to Frontburner. Views advanced in the articles are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position of IACP. Send your questions, comments, and contribution inquiries to us at
Publications Committee Chair: Adam Salomone / Frontburner Editorial Committee: Rosemary Barron, David Joachim, Domenica Marchetti, Sharon Sanders, CCP / Director of Communications: Martha Holmberg / Communications Coordinator: Laura Atkinson

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