The time Julia Child snorted, accidentally cut a guy and other fan tales
August 15th, 2012
08:00 AM ET
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Today would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday, and Eatocracy is celebrating her legacy. Fans sent in their favorite stories about the beloved TV chef and cookbook author.

‘You taught my dad how to cook’

Monica Bennett was 12 years old and heartbroken over her parents’ recent divorce when she moved to Ohio to live with her dad. On his own for the first time, her father had to learn how to cook for his daughter.

Night after night, Bennett found her father bent over Julia’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” preparing a feast for just the two of them. They enjoyed Boeuf Bourgignon countless evenings, but her favorite was Child’s crepes. Twenty-five years later, she carries on the crepe-making tradition – and other culinary adventures - with her own family.

Bennett, now a graphic designer and travel writer in Belleville, Washington, lost her father to cancer two years ago and inherited his collection of Julia Child cookbooks. She also has the standing mixer, meat grinder and fancy bamboo chopping  board he bought for her to encourage her pursuits.

“When I’m cooking from the food splattered pages, I feel like he is there right beside me teaching me how to cook again,” she wrote on CNN iReport. Sometimes she can even hear his thick Czech accent, calling out “That’s right darling, and then you flip the crepe!”

“Thank YOU Julia,” she said. “You taught my dad how to cook who then taught me how to cook, and for that, I am forever grateful to you.”

When Julia snorted

In 1991, Paula Werne was editor of the now-defunct magazine “Catering Today” when Julia Child gave the keynote address at that year’s catering industry awards luncheon.

The audience “lapped up every word” of Child’s ode to cooking with cream and butter (always in moderation), using real food and savoring the preparation. Then she moved on to her disdain for frozen meals and microwaves, and Werne started to turn green.

Werne knew what was coming next. The magazine publisher began his presentation of the catering industry awards. The top prize? A Denver caterer who sold low fat, low calorie meals. Which were frozen. And could be heated in the microwave.

“We were giving this top award to this caterer who did the opposite of everything she had just lectured about,” Werne said. “The timing couldn’t have been worse.”

Werne, then five months pregnant and already battling nausea, watched Child’s jaw clench tighter and tighter, and thought she might be sick in front of the famous chef.

And then, “Ms. Child snorted!”

“I think she tried to sit and be polite but it overcame her. The noise she made was just so visceral – I don’t think she could control it,” Werne told CNN iReport. “I loved Julia Child that moment. She was my hero from that day on.”

'I tried to be Julia Child'

iReporter Cynthia Falardeau loved Julia Child so much she wanted to be her. So she was, for Halloween 1985, and won the costume contest at a college fraternity party with her denim shirt and Aqua Net shellacked hair.

The costume was the closest she got to personifying Child, she said, because "I was a terrible cook."

Fortunately for Falardeau, she met and married a man who loves to cook as much as she loves food. In her iReport, she wrote:

“Thank you Julia for inspiring me to dream of food and to find a man that exemplifies all you believed.”

And from Twitter:

Got a favorite Julia Child story? Chime in below in the comments! See all Julia Child coverage

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Filed under: Buzz • iReport • Julia Child • Twitter

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Christy

    Thank you for your stories. they were great. I enjoyed reading them. For me, the thing I loved most about Julia Child was..... In her earliest episodes, I found it very easy to copy her recipe while watching the show. When the ingredients were displayed on screen, so were the exact amounts and they were displayed long enough so you could write them down. Another thing that impressed me, was how you could cook right along with her. The timing of her step- by -step method made it possible to learn how to cook. It was like being in a classroom but instead, you were in your own kitchen. Julia was the teacher and you were the student. I don't know where the idea of little TV's on the kitchen counter and TV's attached to the underside of your kitchen cabinets came from,but it wouldn't surprise me none if Julia started the whole idea. TV cooks nowadays, they just assume we already know how to cook. They expect us to know what chiffenade is or how to make Creme Bruele. The recipes are quite elaborate and really fancy and the ingredients really expensive. Especially for someone like me on a tight budget. First off, You have to know how to pronounce the stuff and where to get them. Not every grocery store carries all the items needed. You have to go to specialty stores and my town doesn't have them or at least I don't think so. Julia's earliest years were simple and inexpensive cause she realized that not everyone could afford it. In later years, her step-by-step regime changed. I guess she forgot about us novice cooks and assumed by now, after years of watching her shows, we should be pretty well passed the beginner's stage and up there with the advanced crowd. There's where I lost interest in her shows. I didn't say I lost interest in Julia Child. That couldn't and wouldn't happen. I lost interest in her shows when she shifted into high gear and and to change to keep up with the times. No more being able to cook with her, no more time to write down the recipe which didn't matter. Half the time they never said how much of each ingredient. No more step-by-step. When she did the step-by-step method, she could only make 1 or 2 things in the the allotted time. It was only a half hour show. Now they make 3 or 4 things and go so fast and expect you to keep up. How can you when you don't know what they're talking about half the time. Cooking shows today are not teaching programs. They are shows. They show you how something is made. Those Celebrity cooks don't get paid to teach. They get paid to stand there and look good and flaunt their cooking skills which says, "Hey ! Look at me! I can cook and you can't. Don't you wish you could cook like me? Don't you wish you had your own show?" Not really. I'm happy being me. If I had to choose a chef I most admire and would like to be like, I can't pick just 1. I have 4 favorites and they are: 1. Julia Child / 2. Emiril Lagasse / 3.Michael Symon / 4. Justin Wilson. Happy 100th Birthday. I hope I live that long. Thank you.

    September 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
  2. Living Wills

    There is a very helpful website. I've been the following reading through for about couple of hours. I am a newbie and your education and learning is very beneficial to myself. Many thanks Living Wills

    May 6, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  3. DrCarl

    I was manning a table and conducting a tasting of Grand Cru Alsatian wines at the New York Wine Experience some years back. It was getting late and the crowd had died down. No one was at my table. I saw a tall lady coming toward me. When she got to my table I recognized her as Julia Child. She asked me if she could taste my wines, which, of course, was what I was there for. She tasted and then asked me what I thought, which is always a mistake because I am an opinionated, talkative bugger with a wine palate to beat the band, so I told her. We ended up in a great conversation, just the two of us, at the end of which she gave me her card and told me to call should my wife and I be interested in coming up to her place for dinner.

    I never called. This obviously was not because I didn't want to have Julia Child cook us dinner at her home but just because I felt....

    Out of my league? At the age I am now I don't feel out of anyone's league but it's too late to call her now.

    What a fine lady she was!

    (What a DOPE I am!)

    August 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • wolfpackbob

      Yes, you were a dope at the time. What a dinner you three would have had! But to have a chance to shoot the breeze with that classy lady,.... you were blessed.

      August 21, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  4. Thomas Hawkins

    I just started reading Julie and Julia; Gal I know is Julie. 100 years. Will read book and then take Julie to see movie.

    August 18, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  5. SparkelFarkel

    Julia was such a delight and she relished food and the art of cooking. She came along in an era when more women where joining the workforce, and yet she tired to encourage them back into the kitchen. You rocked Julia!!

    August 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  6. RF Burns

    Julia joined the OSS during World War II. With her experiences there, she could have probably penned several interesting novels. Thank-you for your service to our country, Julia. And thank-you for your magnificant contributions to the culinary arts.

    August 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  7. RF Burns

    Save the liver!

    August 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  8. SandyStorm

    Loved to watch her show. Witty, talented woman. Wish there were more women like her in today's world instead of the assorted fake pink fluff we see on the web and tv constantly.

    August 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  9. Spud

    Julia Child is 100? Wow, that's pretty good for cramming all that food down for all of those years.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Troll Patrol

      Here, have some Tool-Aid.

      August 16, 2012 at 7:04 am |
      • ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™

        winning comment!

        August 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  10. jillmarie

    Truth be told, her shows are from before my time. However, I loved the movie Julie and Julia! I'd love to watch her old cooking shows- does anyone know if they are ever aired? It would be great if the Food Network had a sister channel that aired retro cooking shows. I'm sure many of you would agree. I love Food Network, and its shows, but a lot of it is reality TV.

    August 15, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • kdwhitt31

      I've seen reruns on PBS every now and then. I would bet you could find some on you tube as well.

      August 15, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • rdstrahs

      They are on PBS Periodically around like 2 or 2:30 PM... I had Tivo'd almost all of them over a period of time...

      August 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • pattysboi

      Julia's old show is occasionally aired, usually on PBS stations. They're hilarious at times, especially the one about types of chickens and what they are used for!

      August 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • marragor

      Just watched her on PBS last night with Pepin. She's on every week. Never get tired of seeing her programs.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • teo

      All ten seasons of The French Chef are available on Amazon Prime. I've been working my way through each season, and they are a blast!

      August 18, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Cari

      I bought all of her old shows on, you can get them used also for cheap! They are worth every penny!

      August 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
  11. Aeromechanic.

    I remember the Beavis and Butthead episode where they were watching Julia Child and she cut her finger off.

    August 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  12. Susan

    My 7 year old son dubbed her "Julia The Child" and she has remained so in our family forever – she's sparked adventure in cooking for us and to keep an impeccably clean towel at the ready – we miss her so! Happy Birthday!

    August 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  13. Chicken is as chicken does

    Once she dropped a chicken on the floor, picked it up, tossed it in the pan and said "Oh, don't worry about that. The germs will cook right out." Then she took a big gulp of her "water" on stage, just like Dean Martin used to do.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  14. Jarhead4life

    As a kid my brother and I would watch her and laugh our ass off because she was always hitting the wine. A shot for the recipe and a shot for her. She got me interested in cooking along with my fireman father who used to cook for his shift in the firehouse. As a scuba diver I was interested to learn that she had a hand in developing the first shark repelent. Interesting. Did not see that one coming.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  15. chartonna begay

    yeahhh thats very nice.. iqs ?

    August 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  16. Exiene

    In 1980, I was 12, living with my brother and single mom. She is a woman who was never ambitious in her dersire to cook, a nice way to say she was terrible, and with her working, meals were regulated to take-out, fast food etc. Watching the French Chef every Saturday for months gave me courage to ask her if I could cook dinner. She gave me money to go to the store. She probabably thought it would be hot dogs or mac and cheese. But instead I made a lamb stew, salad with home made vinegrette...from then on I was the cook of the house and tke out was regulated to once a week like most households at the time......Thank You Julia

    August 15, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • dsashin

      That's such a lovely story!

      August 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
      • marragor

        Agree. What a terrific story, Exienne

        August 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • hk

      Your lovely story put smile on my face. Thanks for sharing it, Exiene.

      August 17, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  17. er

    I grew up watching Julia Child and Thalassa Cruso (Spelling???) Two strong women from PBS cooking and gardening and being my role models. I wanted to be Julia when I grew up...not for her cooking but her strength, humor, her knowledge and her ability to stay true to who she was. I bake now...and just hope it would be close to her standards!

    August 15, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  18. Joanna

    When I was 10 years old, I first watched Julia on the original French Chef series, Christmas Day, 1963. She was making a buche de noel which excited me to no end since I'm a raving chocoholic and carb-crazy. At the time I already knew how to cook basic things but the exotic French cuisine just fascinated me – I wanted desperately to buy a bain-marie and a Le Creuset dutch oven, but my parents drew the line at that. I'm sure that if the internet was around back then I could have gotten it lol. As I watched more and more episodes I was not only loving the food but was totally enthralled with the personality that is only Julia. I wanted her pots and pans, her dishes, her "butt-ah" dish, everything. As an adult I purchased the French Chef cookbook that contained all the menus featured on every single episode until about 1973 or 1974. I made the buche de noel for a christmas dinner one year and it was DEVOURED, lol. Later when Julia had her program "Baking with Julia" I watched the show frequently with my widowed mom – she bought me the companion cookbook during a PBS pledge drive and inscribed it to me hoping that I would remember watching Julia with her all through the years. Thank you Julia, for the tremendous joy you gave me and so many others.

    August 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  19. nmgal

    I read the biography (kind of long, but excellent detail) in it, the author notes that she considered herself a teacher more than a chef. She would be proud to know that her teaching continues and is being handed down through generations. Bon Apetit!

    August 15, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  20. Stan

    35 years ago, I was a young lawyer whose firm represented WGBH, the Boston Public Television Station which produced many of Julia's TV series. One of the partners knew my wife liked to cook and asked if she wanted to volunteer to help on the show. Of course she did, and after initially doing clean up and other menial tasks, Julia learned she could cook and had her doing some of the prep/duplicate dish prep work. Then Julia found out that my wife was married and that we had an almost two year old son and were just starting out. From that point on, when Julia did the shopping for that week's show, she always bought enough more than they needed so she could give us the extra food and help us along our way. She was exactly as she appeared, not an ounce of pretension, and she and her husband, Paul, were so much in love it was like a constant reminder of what life could be. (Heaven help anyone that said or did anything hostile to Julia when Paul was around, and he was always around.) Happy 100th, indeed!

    August 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Joanna

      What a terrific memory! It's so great when you hear about such a great experience with someone you admire. Was your wife the one that I saw by accident when the camera caught her handing Julia a towel, lol.

      August 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • RF Burns

      Thank-you very much for sharing that story. I'll bet you will cherish those days forever.

      August 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Denise Davis

      What a lovely story. Ever since I saw the movie "Julie and Julia", I always wondered how factual the movie was especially when it came to their relationship. I remember watching her on Saturday mornings on public t.v. Thanks for sharing. I love Julia Child.

      August 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  21. Thomas

    I bet Ms. Child taught many of us how to cook, or at least cultivated our interest in cooking.

    August 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  22. Yoruko

    I remember being at my grandparents house and watching Julia Child. My grandfather loved to watch her. I have a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking myself.

    August 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  23. Suzanne

    Happy 100th Birthday....thanks for all the wonderful memories & good food...I grew up watching you on TV, mom would make me write down the recipe and she would make your food. thank you

    August 15, 2012 at 10:23 am |
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