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secret hertelier: Channeling Julia

One of the very first things I did as General Manager in a high-profile city, was to install a monitor and camera between my office and the front desk. Being able to glance up and see who is checking in at any moment allowed me to quickly appear in the lobby welcoming personally, many of our distinguished guests.

It wasn’t the monitor that alerted me this day of May, but instead, “Oh, it is so wonderful to be back in the city!” she sang out in a voice that could never be unrecognizable. “You have a woman running the hotel now, I must meet her!”

Julia Child in "The French Chef" / photo: Paul Child
Julia Child in "The French Chef" / photo: Paul Child

Julia embraced me on that very first meeting and her visits would always include time together for a coffee or tea and yes, gossip. I avoided asking her questions as she seemed to want to do the asking, curious and animated at all things and about all people. At the end of each gathering, she would always say, “I suppose we should ask the Chef to join us now?” Wisely she knew of her importance to all in the culinary world and always made time to have a face-to-face with a bite to bite.

Inspired By Julia Child

Where did I go years later but straight to Cambridge and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu. Like Julia in France, I was the odd duck there in Cambridge at the culinary institute. My fellow “wanna be chefs” were all in their twenties, I was in my sixties. Most of them were given the option to join the program or do time! They were tough, brash, and often high. I was pushed around, ignored and the last to get partnered up. Thinking of Julia, her story, her grit, and her determination to learn and make the very best of it all, I found ways to amuse this gang of rebellions with a bit of granny wit combined with my own set of superlatives.

Observing my journey from kitchen to kitchen, the teaching staff asked to have a meeting with me, “who are you? They asked, highly suspicious of this grandmother who had integrated into the world of flames and delinquency and mastered the consommé….” were you sent here by our headquarters in Paris, are you undercover?” Laughing and remembering her boisterous laughter, “No, I’m just channeling JULIA!”

Julia Child Continues to Captivate on HBO

Though she passed away in 2004 at the age of 91, Julia Child and her story of reinvention later in life as the first TV chef continues to captivate audiences around the world. She is now the subject of a new program on HBO Max, "Julia" which explores her journey to create the cooking TV show genre with her show "The French Chef" which aired on WGBH in Boston from 1963 to 1973. The HBO show is the American debut of one of England's most beloved TV actresses, Sarah Lancashire, who does an amazing job channeling Julia. The show serves up a healthy serving of her struggles going through menopause, her childlessness, and the ongoing challenges of creating her visionary television show as a woman. It's getting rave reviews, let us know what you think!


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