Sara Moulton’s Favorite Memories of Julia Child

By ABC News

Oct 20, 2011 2:54pm
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Sara Moulton remembers Julia Child:

I started working at “GMA” in 1981 because of a dinner date with Julia Child.

I was lucky enough to meet Julia in Cambridge in the late 70′s when I was working there as the chef manager of a catering operation. She hired me to be the associate chef on her PBS show called “Julia Child and More Company.” When I started working with her I was completely in awe and expected she would just boss us around and tell us what to do. I expected to sit at the foot of a master. But no, that is not how Julia worked. She wanted everyone’s input on the show. We developed the recipes together, although at the end of the day, Julia had the final say. I learned a ton working with her.

Everyday we would stop for lunch and oh, what lunches we had. We would start with a little aperitif (chilled white vermouth, Julia’s favorite) and then sit down to a long table, covered with a cloth and flatware, and real napkins. We generally ate the recipes we were developing for the show, drank more wine and critiqued the food during lunch. But that is not all we talked about. Julia was a foodie but she had a life outside of food and loved discussing anything and everything – movies, politics, local gossip. She was one of the funniest people I ever met because she always said exactly what was on her mind even if she knew it was not going to be popular.

I remember one time being at a professional culinary conference (the IACP) at a huge lunch in a ballroom with maybe 2,000 people present. It was the height of the food police’s assault on fat. They told us we were not supposed to eat fat of any kind at any time for any reason. Well Julia raises her hand right in the middle of lunch and comments (with her unique Julia voice), “But I don’t understand. I mean, I just don’t agree that there is anything wrong with butter. I love butter. We should all eat more butter.”

When I moved to New York in 1981 I missed Julia. She had started working at “GMA” and came down every few months to tape.  She would bring a few helpers from home to assist with the prep and they would knock out four or five segments each visit. One time I asked her if she could have dinner and she said no she didn’t think so, there was just too much prep. I volunteered to come in and prep for free so she could get out for dinner and she took me up on the offer. The very next day “GMA” hired me to work with her when she was in town and many years later that morphed into a job doing the prep for all the chefs that came on the show.

Julia loved working at “GMA.”  She especially loved Charlie Gibson. Even though Julia was a great mentor to many woman she really loved the company of men and Charlie was right at the top of her list. She would outwardly flirt with him on the show. About five months before she passed away I interviewed her at her assisted living home in Santa Barbara for the Food Network and she brought up her happy days at “GMA” and of course, Charlie.

But, honestly, I think she was one of his favorites too!

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