Her Subtle Tenacity

PBS Food asks Chef Markus Farbinger, of île de pain on Thesen Islands in Knysna, about his time with Julia Child on the show, “Baking with Julia.” In the midst of the Julia Child 100th Birthday Celebration, Farbinger pays tribute to her legacy.

What was it like working with Julia Child?

I met Julia arriving at around 5 am at her house for the first shoot. She was watering her plants that were gathered like little children in the corner of one of the rooms. The lower level of her house was turned into a film/editing studio. Much later that day she had a birthday/last shooting celebration in front of Rialto Restaurant and at 10 pm she was still gladly and pleasantly signing copies and speaking to people who spotted her. That was after a full day of shooting and how many days of receiving and hosting chefs for her show? A woman driven by her graciousness as well as her subtle tenacity.

She made me instantly feel comfortable in front of the camera and guided me like a pupil. I was supposed to be the expert?! She was charming and focused. Julia coaxed the finest out of everyone.

What do you believe is Julia Child’s lasting legacy?

She brought food and food preparation to the public. Doing it with a light hearted yet classic approach and an ease that makes anyone just want to cook and be involved with food and enjoying company through food.

She caused dialogue about all issues of food. From sustainability to education, from organic to national health. I don’t think that I know her enough to understand her total contribution.

What was the impact of appearing on Baking with Julia?

Julia was respected and revered. During a day of shooting faxes would come in from the FDA, from scientists, writers,… People (editors, chefs, farmers…) would just drop in all day to speak to her, communicate developments, discuss projects and events…
The impact I felt was very personal to me. It was a matter of “how rich can you live your live”; “how meaningful can you fill your day”.

She inspired me to continue to educate and share. We are finishing our second DVD on Bread Baking. We have an extensive apprenticeship program mentoring young people and using their interest in the food profession to help develop as a complete person.

Her contribution on TV and of course in all other ways is and will be the measuring stick on what is worthy and good to share with a large audience. Young editors and tv executives can/should re-look at how it was done when authenticity was something that was required or perhaps necessary for a good show.

She was so authentic.

She still is authentic.

Always will.

Watch Julia Child and Markus Farbinger

About Markus Farbinger

Fourth generation Austrian baker Markus Färbinger is the co-founder, with chef Liezie Mulder, of renowned café-bakery, île de pain on Thesen Islands in Knysna. Markus also became a Managing Partner for L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates (in Walpole, New Hampshire). Markus has organised events such as Knysna Gastronomica; was featured in the SABC documentary, “Feeding the Nation”; runs artisanal bread classes at île de païn; and recently co-produced a DVD compilation, île de païn: bread.