Q&A with Forbes Travel Guide for the Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend

Julia Child’s Grandnephew Remasters The Art Of French Cooking

Is there a personal anecdote you could share from your time working on the memoir?
Julia and I shared a sense of humor, a love of movies and politics, and had a great time working on her memoir. But it wasn’t easy at first. Julia was surprisingly modest, and didn’t like to “toot my own horn,” as she’d say.
She’d deflect and turn the conversation around to me, or someone else. This was endearing, but made it extremely difficult to interview her.
I finally cracked the code by reading aloud from Paul’s letters to my grandparents. They were beautifully written, often contained drawings or photos, and were full of wonderfully journalistic detail. Her stories began to flow.
Is there anything in particular that surprised you about Child when you were working on The French Chef in America: Julia Child’s Second Act?
Indeed, researching this book was far more surprising than working on Julia’s memoir. I learned about Julia’s two visits to the White House, her failed TV series with James Beard, what she thought of Dan Aykroyd’s impersonation on Saturday Night Live and the really dark times she suffered during the height of her celebrity success.
One thing that struck me is that most of us think that Julia spent her entire career as The French Chef, but that period only represented a quarter of her career.
In the 1970s, she reinvented herself as “Julia Child,” re-Americanized herself, began to use recipes from around the world, wrote in the first person and finally found her true voice. It was exciting to uncover this hidden history.
Do you have a favorite Child recipe?
The answer depends on the day, my mood, the weather, what’s fresh in the market, my wife and kids. But at this time of year, I always enjoy Julia Child classics, like boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin. And for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the fabulous tarte tatin upside-down apple tart or the Reine de Saba chocolate-almond cake.

Julia Child’s Grandnephew Remasters The Art Of French Cooking - Forbes Travel Guide

Bacara Resort & Spa, Photo Credit: Bacara Resort & Spa

What’s up next for you?
In October, Thames & Hudson will publish France Is a Feast: Paul and Julia Child’s Photographic Journey. It’s a book of Paul Child’s evocative black-and-white photos, taken in Paris and Marseille in 1948 to ’54, when he and Julia lived there.
It’s a visual companion to My Life in France, and tells the story from Paul’s perspective, which is quite a tale. I wrote the text, and Katie Pratt edited the images.
I am currently researching a book about the history of food at the White House, from George Washington and his slave chef Hercules to the Obamas and Trumps. It’s a rich and wonderful subject. This book was inspired by Julia’s visits to state diners at the White House in 1967 and 1976, as I recount in The French Chef in America.