5 Things We Learned from Watching the New Julia Child Documentary

published Nov 11, 2021
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JULIA, the new Julia Child documentary, makes its debut in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on November 12, 2021, with a nationwide expansion to follow. Directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West — the Academy Award-nominated directors of RBG — the film will include never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, and cameos of the iconic culinary teacher. Fellow food legends such as José Andrés, Ina Garten, Jacques Pépin, Marcus Samuelsson, and more will also make appearances in the documentary to speak on Julia’s life, too.

Even if you aren’t a huge Julia Child fan, the documentary does a great job of showing the many ways her impact is felt in the food industry and beyond. Not only is the documentary a true testament to her talent, but it also gives you a closer look into a life that has left a mark as big as her laugh.

We got a first look at the wonderful documentary and here are some of the most interesting things we learned from it.

1. The first dish Julia cooked on TV was the humble omelet.

While promoting her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia cooked an omelet on I’ve Been Reading — a book review program on WGBH hosted by then-Boston College English professor P. Albert Duhamel. WGBH producer Russ Morash tells the story of how a woman with a “gasping, strange, very distinctive voice” requested a hot plate for the show. Morash passed along the unusual request and Julia made an omelet for Duhamel live on the show, leaving him blown away by its lightness and the taste. 

2. She showed the French Chef SNL skit at dinner parties.

A month after accidentally cutting her finger right before filming a cooking segment with Jacques Pépin for The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, the famous SNL skit featuring Dan Aykroyd as Julia Child aired. Not only did Julia find it funny, but she also kept a copy of it on hand to show at dinner parties she hosted at her house.

3. Julia was tall, but she was the shortest of her siblings.

Despite being the oldest of three, Julia (6″ 3′) was just a bit shorter than her brother, John McWilliams III (6′ 4″), and sister, Dorothy Cousins (6′ 5″). “Grandma Caro’s reaction to having these three enormous children was, ‘Good heavens, I’ve produced 18 feet of children!’” Phila Cousins, Julia’s niece, said.

4. When Julia first started hosting The French Chef, she was paid just $50 a show.

Julia’s wildly popular, Emmy Award-winning show started off as a low-budget experiment for WGBH. There were no teleprompters or tape editing at the beginning, and a liberal amount of duct tape was used to hold things together and patch up tubes that fell in the demo kitchen they filmed in.

5. She didn’t let mistakes faze her.

Mistakes are part of life — especially when it comes to cooking and baking. Julia was well-aware of this fact and actually embraced it. “If she made a mistake, she was not remotely rattled,” Sara Moulton, Julia’s former sous-chef, said. “She felt that making a mistake was a good thing, just so that she could then show you how to fix it.”

Watch the trailer for JULIA below and be sure to catch it in theaters soon.