The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act

Many of the writings about celebrity chef Julia Child's life have focused on her years abroad, her earliest cookbooks and her first television program, The French Chef. Alex Prud'homme, Child's nephew and coauthor of her memoir My Life in France, fills in the story of her "second act" with this look at her life after that first program.

Her iconic status encourages a false perception that Child rocketed to stardom following the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and remained there, but in fact, she faced the same pressure as any other celebrity to reinvent herself to match changing public interest. Blessed with a boundless work ethic and an indomitable spirit, she rose above creative differences, fickle audiences and shifts in culinary zeitgeist, from a taste for the rich and exotic to a demand for healthier, lighter fare. She mentored and collaborated with other celeb chefs, gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at a White House dinner, and eschewed paid endorsements on her way to becoming a pioneer in culinary entertainment.

Thanks to extensive use of personal letters and papers, the narrative includes Child's voice, and Prud'homme skillfully evokes his aunt by focusing on her most human moments. His in-depth exploration of her relationship with nouvelle cuisine, the forerunner of today's local and sustainable food movements, shows how complex but flexible her philosophies could be. This candid but loving look at one of food entertainment's biggest personalities will satisfy fans. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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