(CreateTV contributed to this article.)
By Sara Moulton
I started working with Julia Child in the late seventies. I was the chef manager of a catering operation in Cambridge, MA, and one day, while one of my workers, Berit Pratt, and I were peeling what seemed like hundreds of hard boiled eggs for an upcoming event the subject of Julia came up. Berit said she had worked on Julia’s shows as a volunteer. I asked if Julia would take on another volunteer for the next taping. Berit said that they were just about to shoot a new show, “Julia Child and More Company” and she would ask Julia about me.
The next day Berit came in and told me, “Julia would like to hire you.” I was bafffled, “Hire me? Pay me? She doesn’t even know me.” Berit reassured me that she told Julia all about me and suggested I go down to the corner pay phone (I did not want to make this call at work) and give her a holler. So I did and Julia picked right up. Julia was listed in the phone book and always picked right up, even on Thanksgiving when all those nut cases would call and frantically ask questions like, “My fresh turkey has been in the trunk of my car in the heated garage for 3 days, can I still cook it?”
Julia said, “Hello dearie, Berit told me all about you, but I was just wondering, “Do you food style?” Now as a chef, several years out of cooking school, I figured I always arranged food nicely on the plate, but had I ever done food styling professionally? No.
But what did I say? What would you have said? “Yes, I am very good at it.” So, I was hired. I worked on that show for three months and later with Julia at Good Morning America. She became a lifelong mentor and friend. Many doors opened because of my relationship with her. I learned so much from Julia:
- You never stop learning
- You must always strive for excellence
- It is okay to make a mistake, because then you can show how to fix it
- You should always be working and preferably at several jobs (I blame Julia for my over-employment)
- Don’t let anything or anyone get in the way of pursuing what you want
- Cooking is fun!
Later when I ended up on the Food Network with my own show, I had Julia on as a guest and afterwards when the Network was shooting photos of the two of us for publicity purposes, Julia put her big arm around me and said, “Now, Dearie, just say champagne!”
Meaning, just smile, smile, smile. Julia did not have a phony bone in her body so if she said to smile, then I understood that was an important part of the job. From then on I was much better at smiling and told all my guests to smile constantly and for no particular reason. I think of Julia often, especially when I am feeling discouraged. She just kept on going, like the energizer bunny, almost until the day she died.
About Sara Moulton
Sara Moulton is the host of Sara’s Weeknight Meals, distrbuted by American Public Television. She is one of the most beloved culinary personalities on air and in print. As Gourmet magazine’s executive chef and food editor for Good Morning America, Sara has been at the forefront of making the kitchen fun and accessible through the power of TV — earning trust and admiration along the way.