Julia Child's Kitchen on Display
Famed Gourmet's Actual Kitchen Moved to Washington Museum
All Things Considered audio
Video: Child Discusses Her Kitchen's New Home
Aug. 19, 2002 -- Julia Child, the woman who helped ignite a food revolution in the United States, today handed her kitchen over to the nation.
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History opened a new exhibit Monday featuring the Cambridge, Mass. kitchen where Child filmed many of her television shows -- and where many Americans learned to be less afraid of French cooking.
The exhibit is not a re-creation of the popular television chef's kitchen, but the actual aqua-marine cabinets, the famed big Garland stove, copper pots and pans, knives -- even the angel food cake cutter. It's virtually everything from her kitchen -- including the kitchen sink -- carefully removed, shipped to Washington, D.C. and put back in place exactly where it originally stood.
Child, who celebrated her 90th birthday last week, is beginning to look frail. But as she examined her former kitchen's new home, she said "I wish I could come in and turn everything on."
Child unveiled the glassed-in kitchen gallery with her trademark salutation "Bon Appetit!" -- which is also the name of the exhibit. The highlight of the exhibit is a 20-by-14-foot exact replica of her Cambridge kitchen, where only the walls and floor were fabricated by Smithsonian craftsmen. It also includes videos from some of her famed cooking shows over the years, and even features the contents of the kitchen drawers, filled with countless kitchen gadgets.
Perhaps the most exotic of all the gadgets was a small signaling mirror issued to Child when she served in the Office of Strategic Services -- the forerunner of the CIA -- during World War II.
America's most famous cook is generally credited with introducing the basics of French cooking to America with her television series The French Chef, which started in 1962. At the time, most American home cooking was considered bland, familiar and convenient. Child is credited with popularizing exotic ingredients and then-unusual cooking methods to spice up the American diet.
Child loves to use butter and cream in her recipes, bucking the national trend for low-fat, healthy living. Her secret of staying trim, despite the rich diet? "I don't eat so much butter and cream -- just enough! And no snacking. That's very important."
Julia Child is featured in a National Women's History Museum exhibit on women spies, featured in an April 4, 2002 report on Morning Edition.
NPR member station WBUR reporter Rachel Gotbaum's interviewed Julia Child in her famed kitchen before Child's move back to her native California in November 2001.
The Web site for the exhibit What's Cooking? Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian has many behind-the-scenes photos of the moving process and audio files of Child talking about her memories cooking there. The exhibit is at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.