This blog post will be a detour from the usual around here. This post won’t talk about market conditions or the importance of continuous staff training. This post won’t make one MENTION of how important food cost is. We won’t even touch on subjects like how important it is that you choose a social media platform and REALLY work at giving your restaurant a presence online. And one other thing we won’t talk about is how dangerous couponing can be for your restaurant! (Checked Groupon’s stock lately? Don’t say I didn’t tell you so!) We can save all that for another day.
Because today Julia Child would have been 100 years old. This week our industry is abuzz with everything “Julia.” Restaurants are busy preparing special dinners in honor of her. Newspapers, magazines, and bloggers are busy writing about her immense contributions to the American culinary world. There’s even an app out there that allows you download 32 recipes from volume one of her classic cookbook as well as “careful explanations on technique that make the difference between ordinary home cooking and putting together a ravishing French meal.” Also featured are grocery lists for each recipe, substitution guides and 30 video clips from Child’s cooking series “The Way to Cook.”
3 Things that we can learn from Julia:
1. Quality Matters – Child’s first cooking show hit the airwaves in 1961. The post-World War II era was a time in which many had shifted from actual cooking in the kitchen and gravitated more towards convenience. Pantries were stocked with processed convenience foods and freezers were jam-packed with TV dinners. “Home-cooking” was dead and I for one am glad that I am too young to say I ever went through it. Through “The French Chef”, Julia made America realize that…”Hey! I can do that!” Suddenly, braising an artichoke or trussing a chicken didn’t seem that hard. America was introduced to a variety of ingredients, some were exotic and some were common but forgotten. Sometimes we just forget “how” to use ordinary ingredients. “The French Chef” showed us how to take ingredients seriously and still have fun.
2. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes – Julia didn’t even learn how to REALLY cook until she was in her 40’s and still had the chutzpah to go on LIVE television and try to show us how to make dishes like the not-so-easy beef bourguignon. Julia often said to never admit you made a mistake in the kitchen because, “your guests will never know anyways.” Julia showed us how to be fearless both in the kitchen and out. After all, “If you’re not ready to fail. You’re not going to learn how to cook.”
3. Be You – Along with being one of the most influential chefs of the 20th Century, Child was devoid of pretension. What you saw was what you got. At a taping of one of her first cooking demonstrations, the cameraman took one look at her and began circling her like a judge at a livestock competition finally crying out “How do you expect me to light this woman?” Julia was after all, a 6-foot-3-inch force of nature and literally larger than life. Realizing the cameraman had never seen a woman that large, she joked, “I take it you’ve never worked with a t-rex?”