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From Omelets to Stardom: How Julia Child Accidentally Revolutionized the Modern Cooking Show

How Julia Child accidentally created the modern cooking show

In the mid-1940s, more than two decades after television was invented, people still thought it would be a passing fad, according to Google Arts & Culture. Little did the doubters know that the little “plywood box” would become a huge hit and an integral part of American life. Soon, the invention was enabling popular shows like Julia Child’s “The French Chef,” which became a national favourite in the 1960s and ’70s.
A pioneer of culinary television
Given the success of her series and other early TV cooking shows, it’s no surprise that today almost every cable package and streaming service includes culinary programming. Today’s cooking show competition is fierce, with chefs and TV personalities such as Gordon Ramsay and Guy Fieri carving out their own corners of the culinary world and growing in popularity. But none of this would have been possible without Julia Child.
A book review that changed everything
When the expert on French cuisine appeared on WGBH in Boston in 1961 for a book review segment called “I’ve Been Reading”, her only intention was to promote her cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Little did she know that she would change the food media forever.
A happy accident
In CNN’s Julia Child documentary Julia, Russell Morash, producer of Child’s cooking series The French Chef, recalls that Child insisted on promoting her cookbook with a televised cooking demonstration. Instead of having a sit-down conversation and calling it a day, she “decided to make an omelette to lighten things up. WGBH received such a positive response from viewers who wrote and called the station that the station offered her the opportunity to host her own cooking show.
A pioneer in culinary television
While TV cooking demos are a dime a dozen these days, Child was a pioneer of the art, as it had never been done before. “I thought to myself: Who is this crazy woman making an omelette on a book review programme?” Morash said, recalling how she brought her equipment from home. He then suggested that she shoot a three-part pilot for The French Chef in 1962. The show went on to run successfully for a decade.
The accidental invention of the modern American cooking show
As the CNN documentary points out, one woman accidentally invented and popularised the modern American cooking show. Without Julia Child’s demonstration of a French omelette, we might never have had the myriad of cooking series we know today. Her passion for French cuisine and charismatic on-screen presence captivated audiences and inspired a generation of home cooks.
Ongoing influence and legacy
To learn more about Child’s impact on the culinary world, watch Julia on CNN and HBO’s new Julia Child series starring Sarah Lancashire. Julia Child’s influence on cooking shows and the way we consume culinary content is undeniable. From her humble beginnings as a cookbook author to becoming a beloved television personality, she revolutionised the way we approach food and made cooking accessible to millions.
Julia Child’s accidental creation of the modern cooking show paved the way for the diverse range of culinary programming we enjoy today. Her legacy continues to inspire chefs and home cooks alike, reminding us of the power of passion, innovation and joy that can be found in the kitchen.
– Google Arts & Culture


Julia Child’s cooking show “The French Chef” was significant because it revolutionised the way cooking shows were presented on television. Her unique approach to culinary programming, combined with her charismatic personality, made cooking accessible and entertaining to viewers, paving the way for the modern cooking show format we know today.

How did Julia Child accidentally create the modern cooking show?

Julia Child inadvertently created the modern cooking show when she appeared on a Boston TV station for a book review segment in 1961. Rather than simply promoting her cookbook, she decided to demonstrate how to make an omelette, which received an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience. This led to the station offering her the opportunity to host her own cooking show, “The French Chef”, which became a huge success and set the stage for future cooking shows.

What impact has Julia Child had on the culinary world?

Julia Child had a profound effect on the culinary world. Her passion for French cuisine, combined with her engaging and educational approach to cooking, inspired countless home cooks and aspiring chefs. She demystified complex recipes, introduced new techniques and encouraged people to explore and experiment in the kitchen. Her influence extended beyond her television show, as she authored several bestselling cookbooks and continued to champion quality ingredients and the joy of cooking throughout her career.

Who are some of the other famous people influenced by Julia Child’s cooking show?

Julia Child’s cooking show has served as a catalyst for many notable personalities in the culinary world. Some of the chefs and TV personalities who have been influenced by her include Gordon Ramsay, Guy Fieri and numerous other cooking show hosts. Julia Child’s pioneering efforts and ability to make cooking fun and accessible inspired a generation of chefs and contributed to the popularity and diversity of culinary programming we see today.

Where can I find out more about Julia Child’s impact on the culinary world?

You can learn more about Julia Child’s impact on the culinary world by watching Julia, the documentary about her life and career, on CNN. In addition, HBO has produced a new series about Julia Child starring Sarah Lancashire, which offers further insight into her influence and legacy. Exploring her cookbooks and trying out some of her classic recipes is also a great way to delve into her culinary contributions.

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