August 15 would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. In her honor, chef Christy Rost, who hosts an annual PBS national special, "A Home for Christy Rost: Thanksgiving" from Swan's Nest, her restored 1898 Breckenridge home, paid homage to the cooking legend.
Rost toured Pennsylvania and Ohio this month, giving a series of culinary tributes in honor of Child, who not only taught French cookery to generations of viewers but also made groundbreaking contributions to public television. Rost demonstrated three of Child's classic recipes and shared personal possessions of the late chef, whom she knew. Here, Rost discusses how Julia Child impacted her career:
I first met Julia Child when I attended a culinary conference in Portland in 1995. She was very interested in young culinarians -what we were doing, what our goals were, what our difficulties were and our successes - and she was very open to developing a relationship with me. So, through the years, I would speak to Julia as I progressed and grew my career.
I was certainly a fan of Julia's and the incredible influence she had on American culture and cooking at home for our families. She represents so much for all of us in American culture, from a respect for time-honored cooking traditions, to letting one's guard down and embracing the fun and adventure of cooking, undaunted by unfamiliar ingredients or culinary techniques, in order to bring delectable food experiences to the family table. Again, her spirit was inspiring because she was so comfortable with being herself, whether one-on-one or with thousands watching her on television.
Julia and Jacques Pepin were visiting Dallas on a book tour. At the conclusion of the signing, I approached Julia and assisted her off the stage, and she asked me how my TV show was doing. I replied, "It is doing very well, Julia." She continued, "Is it on PBS?" I said, "No. It is on local TV here in DFW in Fort Worth," and Julia said, "One day, Christy, you should have your own PBS show." And I never forgot that.
I would consider Julia a cheerleader, and champion of my work.
The culinary tributes to Julia Child were exciting and extremely well received by the culinary enthusiasts I met in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Everyone wanted to know about my relationship with Julia Child, the conversations I had with her, and the influence she had over my culinary career. They were especially excited about seeing the items I had from Julia's kitchen, and I think they greatly appreciated the opportunity to taste some of Julia's classic recipes, such as French onion soup and homemade puff pastry.
I brought two metal frosting spatulas, both of which are signed "JC" - one on a piece of masking tape, and one in silver ink. I also brought two pastry brushes, one of which has writing on the handle on both sides in French, and an unusually-shaped wooden spoon that appears to have been made to get into the edges of a pan. It appears to have been a well-loved piece. I purchased the items at a culinary conference to benefit scholarships for culinary students. It was a cause that Julia Child heartily supported and she donated the items for this purpose. I also brought three framed photographs taken with Julia at various stages in my career, and the audiences fell in love with the photographs.
Fans tell me they like the fact that I am real, that I am interested in them and that my passion for family and home cooking ignites a similar passion in them.
Living in Summit County has expanded my culinary repertoire in a way I could not have anticipated, and my life is further enriched for it. The readers of "Celebrating Home" will have the opportunity to fall in love with the foods that we enjoy in this part of the country.
Christy Rost's Thanksgiving program has enjoyed great success since its premiere in 2009, reaching more than 86 percent of the country, on 338 stations in 43 states. The show will air again in November. Her latest book, "Celebrating Home: A Handbook for Gracious Living," is due out in September.