“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”~Julia Child

Night of the Notables~ An opportunity for Talons students to gather and prepare knowledge to share about the lives of whoever they find influential, and displaying their findings on a night dedicated to notable people. In preparation to this event, we were asked to choose a person that we personally found inspirational. During my search for a women to study, I stumbled upon Julia Child, an American who became a French Chef.

On August 15, 1912, Julia Carolyn Child was born into a well-off family in Pasadena, California, with a Princeton graduate as a father and a mother who was the daughter of the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. John McWilliams (an early investor in real estate) and Julia Carolyn Weston (a paper company heiress) also had a son and a daughter after Julia, named John III and Dorothy. Julia was called many nicknames such as “Juju”, “Juke” and “Jukies” and she grew to be a very tall girl, at 6 feet 2 inches. While being enrolled in a boarding school, Julia played basketball, golf and tennis, and continued while she went to College to become a writer.

Smith College~where Julia graduated from

After graduating with an English major, Julia became a copywriter for the company W&J Sloane in New York, but ended up moving back to California in 1937. After 4 years of working for publishing companies, Julia had intended to enroll in the Women’s Army Corps, however due to her height, she was not able to, and became a typist for the Office of Strategic Services (an intelligence agency in World War II that is now known as the CIA) instead in 1941. Her knowledge and education served her well as she went on top secret research missions to Washington, D.C., Kumming, China and Colombo, Sri Lanka. Julia earned the Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service as a reward for her spirit and determination. During this time, in 1945, Julia and Paul Child (an employee of OSS) had begun a relationship that, without her knowing, was the start of her legacy with cooking. The two of them came to America, and on September 1, 1946, they got married.

The cookbook Julia made with Simone Berk and Louisette Berthole

Julia’s Cookbook

The couple moved to Paris when Paul was offered a job at the U.S. State Department, and this was when he had introduced Julia to French cuisine. After she had tried the oysters at a restaurant, Julia was amazed by both the flavor and the technique used to make this delicious food. She then joined cooking school in France, and her career went uphill from there. Julia went on to meet many master chefs such as Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, and together they published their own cookbook called, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” With the success of this two-volume book, the three friends travelled around Europe before ending up in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Eventually, Julia Child even got her own T.V. show known as “The French Chef”. With such a determined and happy lady showing the simple steps of cooking, Julia Child inspired many people to not only finish the necessary task at hand, but also to enjoy the process of cooking. The show was rewarded with prizes such as the Emmy and Peabody awards, then in 2009, a film called “Julie and Julia” was made, based on the story of Julia and her cooking. There were many other books and films inspired by her too, and she proves to not only appear in the media, but in the new ways of American cooking in the U.S. as well.

Julia in her cooking show, “The French Chef”

I believe Julia Child has left a legacy behind her that will, and still does, continue on long after her death on August 13, 2004 (in Montecito, California). I find her to be notable because she has left a mark in the minds and hearts of people, especially when it comes to being in the kitchen. She taught everyone to keep going with the flow of cooking, and that even when you mess up, you can keep moving forward like nothing happened since it’s all about having fun. I chose Julia as my eminent person because I was drawn to her cheerful and motivational attitude, as well as her interests.

I would say that choosing Julia was a not-so-bad match for me seeing that we are (or partly are) both white females, who do not belong to any particular religion—although we both do believe in God. We both share an interest in cooking as well. We differentiate in certain ways though, seeing that she was a French chef and had her own television cooking show. I am neither a French chef, nor do I have a cooking show, so I do not have nearly as much experience as she does. However, I still believe we have enough similarities for me to understand the lifestyle of this American that I, and many others, admire.

The goals I would like to achieve throughout the year will probably be to improve my time management (aka. conquering procrastination) and overcoming my fears of public speaking. I would like to develop my confidence in presenting, whether it is for the Eminent Person Study or for other In-depth projects. This skill will be important throughout my school years and even beyond as well, so by working towards this goal, I will be benefiting in the long run. As for my wishes for during this eminent person study, I hope to learn ways to develop the same traits that I admire in the person I found inspirational.