Julia Child on Creating Recipes (2024)

Julia Child on Creating Recipes (1)
Julia Child on Creating Recipes (2)

I can't tell you how many times I've made up an original recipe and a day or two after I create it, I'll see what I just made up myself in magazine. This happened with the edamame puree and with the sauteed tomatoes I made for the grilled veal. It has happened so many times. Anyone would think I saw the magazine first and then made the recipe up. But it was the reverse: I had an idea and then someone else had the same idea.

This happened with my friend, Tracey, who thought it would be so cute to make place-card napkin holders out of the gingerbread leaves my mom was making at the bakery. The next day she was on Williams-Sonoma's website and they had placecard cookie napkin holders. Great minds just think alike.

The reverse is also true: sometimes magazines, cooking shows, restaurants, etc. inspire me to make a new dish and they are the first spark for the idea or inspiration. Other times I'm inspired alone just from seeing a raw ingredient or having some random things that happened to be at my kitchen counter at the same time or sometimes I just have an idea.

My friend Jennifer said "I really think recipes are in the air and if we are 'tuned in' we can hear them...just like music and a good story." Well, that is certainly true for me with recipes, they are just floating out there and come to me all the time. Sometimes at 2:00 in the morning, othertimes when I'm in the shower and often when I'm cooking. The answer is just "there." And I suppose it comes so easily because of knowledge of techniques and flavors and what goes together. And while composing recipes is so easy and almost effortless to me, I can't play music by ear at all. I took piano lessons for years and even taught piano for 3 years when we were in the Army. I can learn any song if you give me the notes. I can even memorize it. But I can't play by ear at all and I'm so envious of people who compose music and songs because I don't have that talent at all.

I want to include this 1983 article by Julia Child on Creating Recipes. She echos so many of my thoughts and feelings. This article accompanied a recipe for Cranberry Chutney so I'll include that recipe as well.


Julia Child, November 13, 1983, Parade Magazine

One of the great pleasures of cooking is creating original recipes. One feels so clever, and the more one has cooked, the more one's background contributes to creativity. Of course, it's creation in the sense of assembling known ingredients and ideas in an original form.

An example is the cranberry chutney in this section. We (our cooking team) had been talking about chutneys for another menu, and so chutney was on our minds when we talked of cranberries for Thanksgiving. What new form might we serve them in? Why not cranberry chutney? None of us had ever heard of such a thing, but we gave it a try, did several version, voted for the one here and were delighted with our ingenuity. The very next day, one of us was browsing through a cookbook, and there was our cranberry chutney--not quite word for word, but very near it. We were amazed, incredulous.

For our crepe article that appeared last April, we wanted a souffle in a crepe. We tried out serveral versions and created a system using a pastry-cream base with egg whites beaten into a meringue. It worked beautifully, and we were extremely pleased and proud of ourselves. After it was all photographed and written, in came Chef Jean-Claude from Dallas to do a gala dessert for our TV series, Dinner at Julia's. Yes! he made an orange souffleed crepe surrounded by strawberry sauce; it was almost exactly the same formula as ours--a word or ingredient was changed here and there, but it was an almost identical recipe. How could that be, when we ourselves had invented the system?

I have no explnation for this spontaneous phenomenon. It is mental telepathy? It is that recipes and ideas float about in the stratosphere, and our antennae pick them up? It does happen--to me anyway--often enough that it cannot be coincidence alone.


Makes about 1 quart

You can make chutney out of almost anything, it seems--mangoes, peaches, apricots--and it all has a sweet-and-sour taste.

For about 1 quart of cranberry chutney, simmer 1 cup of sliced onions for 30 minutes in a 3-quart saucepan with 1 cups of water, 3/4 cups of dark brown sugar and 1/2 cups of white sugar. Then stir in 3/4 cups of cider vinegar, 2 tart apples (peeled, seeded and diced) 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon each of mace and curry powder and the grated rinds of 2 oranges. Simmer 1/2 hour longer, then stir in 1 pound (1 quart) of cranberries (washed and picked over,) 1/2 cup of currants (small black raisins) and the strained juice of the 2 oranges. Boil slowly for about 10 minutes, or until the cranberries burst. Correct seasoning, adding sugar if too sour--but it should not be sweet.

Maili's Notes: I make chutney all the time. Kumquat chutney, peach chutney, tomato chutney. I love the combination of sweet and sour. I don't put curry powder in my cranberry chutney. the other key technique that I do differently than Julia is that I saute my onions in olive oil before I add the water or sugar. I get them caramelized with a pinch of kosher salt a bit of water when needed. Then when they are cooked I start adding the other ingredients.

Julia Child on Creating Recipes (2024)


Julia Child on Creating Recipes? ›

I can't tell you how many times I've made up an original recipe and a day or two after I create it, I'll see what I just made up myself in magazine. This happened with the edamame puree and with the sauteed tomatoes I made for the grilled veal. It has happened so many times.

How did Julia Child change the culinary industry? ›

Julia Child revolutionized American cuisine through her French cooking school, award-winning cookbooks, and world-renowned television programs by presenting an approachable version of sophisticated French cooking to her eager audience for four decades.

What dishes did Julia Child invent? ›

10 Essential Julia Child Recipes Everyone Should Master
  • Coq a Vin.
  • Vichyssoise.
  • Quiche Lorraine.
  • Boeuf Bourguignon.
  • Crêpes Suzette.
  • Chicken Waterzooi.
  • Cassoulet.
  • Vinaigrette.
Apr 2, 2024

How did Julia Child learn how do you cook? ›

It was in Paris, that Child began to take cooking seriously. She enrolled in the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.

What was Julia Child's favorite recipe? ›

Julia Child's Favorite Roast Chicken

Child seasoned this roast chicken inside and out by packing sautéed vegetables, lemon slices, and fresh herbs into the cavity, then rubbing the skin with butter. In typical French fashion, she trussed the bird to promote even cooking.

Why does Julia Child's have an accent? ›

According to Distractify, while Child was raised for the most part in California, her voice may have been inspired by Mid-Atlantic accents while attending Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

What is Julia Child's most famous dish? ›

Child's Boeuf Bourguignon recipe was featured in one of the earliest episodes of The French Chef and has become a classic among the many Child enthusiasts at GBH. In fact, GBH News host Henry Santoro concludes there's no better recipe for the dish.

Was Julia Child a trained chef? ›

In 1950, Julia Child attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.

After moving to Paris, Child began taking cooking lessons at one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the world, Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Did Julia Child have a culinary degree? ›

Julia Child received this diploma in March 1951, a full year after completing her course of study at Le Cordon Bleu, the esteemed culinary school in Paris.

Did Julia Child use a microwave? ›

Child addressed her mixed feelings about it in the introduction of her book "The Way to Cook," writing, "I wouldn't be without my microwave oven, but I rarely use it for real cooking.

What was Julia Child's first meal? ›

Child and her husband, Paul, stopped for lunch at Restaurant La Couronne (“The Crown”) in Rouen, the capital of the northern region of Normandy. For their first meal in France, Paul ordered oysters, sole meunière and a green salad.

How did Julia Child make scrambled eggs? ›

Instead of preheating a pan, she has you smear a heavy-bottomed skillet (I use a nonstick for ease) with butter and immediately add the eggs. You'll set it over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often, until it starts to thicken. (Be patient because this will take a few minutes!)

What did Julia Child do before she cooked? ›

Julia Child is probably best known for bringing French cuisine into America's mainstream. But, few know that she had a dynamic career as an intelligence officer before she became a cooking icon. She was born in Pasadena, Calif., on Aug. 15, 1912.

How old was Julia Child's when she started cooking? ›

When it came to food, Child was a late bloomer. She freely admitted she couldn't cook until her early 30s, and she had a lot of mishaps along the way. She embraced her experiences, however, and knew that if recipes sometimes failed, she just had to try again. “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.

How much older was Julia Child's husband than her? ›

Paul Child was 10 years older than Julia, and their age difference actually worked very well for the pair.

How much was Julia Child worth when she died? ›

What was Julia Child's net worth before her death in 2004? Child was worth $50 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

How did Julia lose her son? ›

Initial reports claimed that the baby died of natural causes, but a concealed autopsy revealed that he had traces of diazepam in his bloodstream. The medical examiner also concluded that the baby had been violently shaken before his death.

Did Julia Child get paid for the French chef? ›

The French Chef television series began in 1963 and went on to become an outstanding public television success. Child won a Peabody Award in 1965, followed by an Emmy the next year. She only accepted $50.00 a show, donating the rest of her salary to the television station.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kimberely Baumbach CPA

Last Updated:

Views: 6478

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kimberely Baumbach CPA

Birthday: 1996-01-14

Address: 8381 Boyce Course, Imeldachester, ND 74681

Phone: +3571286597580

Job: Product Banking Analyst

Hobby: Cosplaying, Inline skating, Amateur radio, Baton twirling, Mountaineering, Flying, Archery

Introduction: My name is Kimberely Baumbach CPA, I am a gorgeous, bright, charming, encouraging, zealous, lively, good person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.