I met Julia Child in 1979 when I managed to wrangle myself a behind-the-scenes job on her public television show, “Julia Child and More Company.” We taped that show three days a week for three months, and during that time I got to know Julia and her team well.
At the very beginning, I was prepared to sit at the foot of a master and do whatever I was told. But that wasn’t Julia’s way. She wanted the whole team to help develop the recipes. She was interested in our ideas, even though, naturally enough, she reserved the final word for herself.
Happily, our relationship wasn’t cancelled at the end of the season. Julia became my friend and mentor for life. It was Julia who arranged an apprenticeship for me at a one-star restaurant in France, helped me to get a restaurant job in New York City, and invited me to assist her during her appearances on “Good Morning America.” This latter opportunity led directly to my job in the kitchen at “GMA” and ultimately, to my gig at the Food Network.
I learned so many things from Julia. First, you should never stop learning. Then, always strive for excellence, always be curious about other people, always have more than one job, and always eat everything, but in moderation. Her advice about television was priceless: 1) It’s okay to mistakes on camera, and, 2) You have to smile constantly and for no particular reason. To this day, if I’m puzzled about just about anything, I still ask myself: “What would Julia do?”
In this episode I make three Julia-inspired recipes. The first is Trout Meuniere, an adaptation of Sole Meuniere. Her electrifying introduction to French cuisine, Sole Meuiere was the first dish Julia ate when she arrived in France as a young bride, and it literally changed the course of her life. Second is a Broccoli and Goat Cheese Souffleed omelet, a nod to the simple omelet Julia prepared the very first time she appeared on television. And the third is cassoulet, the deep-flavored stew that’s been a hallmark of French cuisine forever…and was always one of Julia’s favorites.