The Real Reason Julia Child Made Cooking Shows

Cooking shows are standard fare for viewers these days and we're even spoilt for choice. We have a variety of incredible cooking experts to choose from, including Mary Berry, Ina Garten, Nadiya Hussain, Nigella Lawson, and Rachael Ray, to name just a few. But as Garten pointed out in the documentary "Julia," while a lot of her fellow famous chefs write cookbooks and have their own series just like Julia Child did, the cooking icon really "got the train out of the station."

We have no way of knowing whether Child had planned or at least hoped to make television a regular gig all along, but what we do know is that she had just written "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and she'd been invited to go on WGBH Boston to promote the book — and she wasn't about to waste the opportunity. Producer and director, Russell Morash, said before she was scheduled to come on, she called ahead to ensure there was a hot plate for the show. He then recalled, "She made a proper omelet in a proper omelet pan that night." The segment was such a hit that it actually had viewers calling in, and a new culinary star was born.

Julia Child's shows were one-take wonders

Because of that cooking segment, Child was given a chance to put her own show together on a shoestring budget. It was called "The French Chef" — even though, as the New York Times points out — Child was American, and she was more of a cook than a chef. Morash also revealed in the documentary that because the programs were all filmed in one-take, they all needed a lot of preparation to get it right. The show also needed to be forgiving because there was no opportunity to edit. As a result, the celebrity chef made mistakes and plenty of them. 

Another producer, Geof Drummond, who worked with Child in the 1990s, told the New York Times that he believed "the secret of her appeal was a combination of joy in what she was doing and a deep desire to teach and to teach well. The food was important to her, and it was important to her that you get it." Towards the end, the documentary shows Child interacting with fans, one of which tells her that seeing the legendary chef make mistakes in the kitchen made her unafraid to do the same. This is exactly what Child said she was trying to do — make cooking easy for people and make them "fearless cooks."