Why Julia Child Is Responsible For The First-Ever Filmed State Dinner

World-renowned chef Julia Child had her finger in many different pies before becoming a culinary phenom and ... well, a pie person. Child dabbled in espionage and invented a better shark repellent. And as Smithsonian Magazine outlines, the chef also had a knack for redefining things. For example, his marriage to Paul Child was anything but conventional for mid-century America, particularly when Child's professional success began to eclipse her husband's, and he elected to retire so that he could support her career. Marriage: redefined. Then there's the term "TV dinner," traditionally defined as a frozen meal on a tray, intended to be reheated and consumed in front of one's television set (via Smithsonian Magazine).

But when Child came on the scene — or, rather, the set — the TV and dinner became married in a different way, as she used regularly scheduled programming to teach America how to cook fresh meals and elevated French cuisine ... and maybe leave those dinner trays in the freezer. The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts is like one of Child's delicious dishes: a real mouthful. But it's also an extensive archive of all the television, videos, and DVDs Child graced us with over the years, from the Emmy Award-winning "The French Chef" in 1963, to "Dinner at Julia's" in the 1980s, and even "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" in 2000. But which televised dinner takes the proverbial cake?

We spy with our little eye a state dinner on TV

The cake-taker just might be that time in 1968 that Child and White House executive chef Henry Haller organized a televised state dinner for then-president Lyndon B. Johnson and visiting Japanese Prime Minister, Eisaku Satō in a TV special titled, "White House Red Carpet with Julia," according to Mental Floss. A seafood vol-au-vent (topped with, appropriately, sauce Americaine) preceded a lamb filet with artichokes, according to the website, and the Bavarian mousse that was wheeled out for dessert put the cherry on what Child called "one of the best dinners I've eaten anywhere." That's saying something, as the whole affair might never have been televised had Child accepted "no" as an answer from the White House.

1968 was long before the well-known, televised White House Correspondents' Dinners of modern media's curious marriage with politics. In fact, CNN explains that the tradition of state dinners, which dates back to 1874, when President Grant hosted King Kalākaua of Hawai'i, is a ritual that has been "tapering off" since the Cold War. But it was Child who convinced the White House to allow a film crew into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue back in 1968 for the first-ever state dinner on television. And then, according to Mental Floss, she escaped to her holiday home in Provence, France, to watch the broadcast from afar. You know, spy stuff.