Here's What It's Like To Be A Judge On The Julia Child Challenge

From the moment viewers were welcomed into the "Julia Child Challenge" kitchen, it felt like they were being transported into a bygone era. With retro Robin's Egg blue walls, peg-boards festooned with cooking accouterments, and Child's cookbooks perched at every station, the television audience couldn't help but feel that they were stepping into Julia's own cooking space. And the contestants and judges shared this feeling, too. In fact, Head Judge Antonia Lofaso told TV Insider, "There was more than one occasion where our judges would get emotional walking into the kitchen the first time." 

Another facet of the "Julia Child Challenge" that ramped up the emotional connection with Child, was the fact that the beloved chef was able to participate in the show. Yes, they found a way to seamlessly incorporate archived footage from Child's cooking shows into this modern-day offering almost 18 years after her passing. At the beginning of each episode, the judges and contestants were greeted by their culinary hero on a giant television screen that looked like it belonged in a living room from yesteryear — rabbit ear antennae and all. In fact, Lofaso confided to Variety that she loved standing alongside Child's TV screen image, with the chef "smiling ear to ear, wielding a sword and chickens in front of her." 

Yes, this cooking show is unlike any other before it. And the judging experience is also very unique. So what is it like to be a judge on this groundbreaking show? 

Judges and participants dined on contestant dishes together

Antonia Lofaso is no stranger to judging culinary contests. She has lent her well-honed palate to shows like "Cutthroat Kitchen," Chopped," and "Guy's Grocery Games" (per IMDb), but she says that serving as a judge on the "Julia Child Challenge" was a unique experience. What made this role so different? Lofaso told TV Insider that "It almost felt like all these home cooks were in this together. The judging was different because everyone sat around the table as if we were all sharing a meal together." This camaraderie between the participants and judges was also helpful to aspiring cooks in the audience as they were able to hear tips and feedback presented in a helpful and positive way. 

Prolific cookbook author and longtime friend of Julia Child, Dorie Greenspan, had the honor of being a guest judge in the series finale. She shared in her blog that after being with the contestants for hours and hours, the moment of announcing the winner was tense. She summed it up by saying, "You've tasted their great dishes and the ones that would have been great had they had a little more time or one less mishap. You've shared the end-of-show family meal and have been touched by how they've cooked with imagination and every bit of their hearts." Yes, only one person can win, but each of these contestants earned a place in the hearts of viewers — and likely Child, herself.