Before Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay there was Julia Child, America’s first celebrity chef. In celebration of Child’s 101st birthday on August 15, Jackson’s Steakhouse will be offering special dishes to honor her delicious legacy.
Child, with her ornate speech and large personality, rose to fame when her first cookbook, the best-selling, critically acclaimed “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” was published in 1961. Written with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, the cookbook was the first to adapt French recipes for American home-cooks. The cookbook introduced French cooking to the United States at a time when it was considered expensive restaurant fare, not suitable for home cooking.
Her PBS show, “The French Chef,” was one of the first cooking shows on American television and her relaxed demeanor, love of butter, and occasional mistakes—which Child referred to as “teachable moments”—encouraged ordinary cooks to attempt new techniques and recipes.
Child single-handedly changed the way we think about food in this country and her impact is far-reaching. Even chefs here on the Gulf Coast—4,656 miles from Paris where Child fostered her love of food and cooking—are indebted to Child’s determination to bring French recipes to American chefs.
“All chefs learn from those before them and her technique, ingredients and recipes are still being used today,” said Maria Goldberg, director of marketing, public relations and events for the Great Southern Restaurant Group. “A number of chefs, including our own, look up to her as an inspiration.”
To celebrate, Jackson’s will offer four Julia-inspired recipes in addition to their normal lunch and dinner menus. For lunch, Chef Irv Miller will prepare his take on Child’s Niçoise Salad, a mix of artisanal greens, green beans, shallots, tomatoes, capers, tuna, anchovy fillets and black niçoise olives. The entrée feature will be Child’s Beef Bourguignon, a classic recipe featuring bacon, beef, onions, carrots, red wine, fresh herbs and mushrooms.
For dinner, Chef Miller will prepare Veal Marengo, a slow-braised brisket with tomatoes, onions, olives, garlic and white wine and a Julia-inspired Ratatouille Casserole prepared from baked summer eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions with herbs de Provence.
Goldberg is excited to offer these classic dishes to the community especially her favorite, Child’s Beef Bourguignon.
“It’s a classic dish that she perfected. If anyone is going to make it, they refer to Julia. She is the one who honed it, who mastered it, and who really gave it to all of us. She created a standard that we can now follow,” said Goldberg.
It’s also a recipe that Goldberg frequently uses in her own home.
“It’s one of those staple dishes that never disappoints,” she said. “It’s always delicious and whenever I have company, it’s one of those dishes that I know I can make it and everyone will love it.”
Like any good birthday celebration, the event will not only honor Child’s work but the memories that she helped create.
“A lot of people have a lot of fun memories with Julia Child,” said Goldberg. “I cannot think of a time when I did not watch her show growing up.”
The event also encourages fans of Child’s to come together and share their stories with each other.
“I have a friend who would always watch Julia’s show with her father,” said Goldberg. “Now they come to Jackson’s on her birthday to reminisce their love of Julia.”
And, thanks to Jackson’s Chef Miller, everyone, even those of us who aren’t the best of chefs, can enjoy Child’s beloved recipes.
Above all, the birthday event invites fans of Child’s to celebrate the delicious legacy of a chef whose memory continues to live through the chefs and recipes that she inspired.
JACKSON’S AND JULIA
WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 15, lunch and dinner
WHERE: Jackson’s Steakhouse, 400 S. Palafox St.
DETAILS: For reservations, call 469-9898