The October You & Julia Challenge is underway, launched by Christopher Kimball, founder of Milk Street. We had a chance to talk to Kimball about cooking with Julia Child, why she was the ultimate teacher, and how Milk Street’s mission of changing home cooking was inspired by Julia.
On the time he cooked with Julia Child:
"When I moved to Boston in the early nineties, I got a call from Julia and she invited me over to cook. Julia was competitive in a very nice way — she wanted to know if you could really cook. She gave me a whole plate of oysters to open. At the time I was a terrible oyster-shucker. She came over in her inimitable voice and said, ‘do you need some help, deary?’ And I said, ‘no, I don't need help, I need a glass of wine! You shuck the oysters, I'm going to drink the wine, everything will be fine.’ And after that, we got along great."
On why Julia still resonates so strongly today:
"Julia was the ultimate teacher. She was able to take French culture and food and bring that to America by being a teacher and translator. And that was her gift — taking something foreign at the time and making it familiar. And that was why Julia was so great.
She had that passion — she cared deeply about education, and she didn't care about fame. She didn't care about fortune, but she cared about information… And that dedication to teaching is part of her impact, sort of like the ‘Mister Rogers of the kitchen.’ She had that public television-public media focus on education and helping people."
On Milk Street’s mission of changing the way we think about home cooking:
"When traveling around the world, food writers used to have the approach of 'how exotic!' Everything was exotic and different. At Milk Street, we're taking an opposite tact — how does the average home cook in Mumbai cook? Or Chiang Mai? Or in Tunisia, or Oaxaca? We're not looking for something exotic, we're looking for something everyday. We want the opposite.
It turns out that when you go to Beirut, the kitchen looks just like your kitchen in New York. And the people are really the same. The entire premise of Milk Street is: The world’s kind of a small place, and if you go visit these people around the world you’ll find they're just like you. It’s about looking at cooking as a way of meeting other people around the world, introducing yourself to them, and vice versa. It’s also about becoming a better cook because there's a lot of people around the world who know a lot more about cooking than we do."
Submit a photo of your best dessert at @WGBHBoston on Facebook, in the comments section by Sunday, October 20th for a chance to be featured across our digital and social channels as one of our Favorites. Three randomly-selected winners will receive a signed copy of Christopher Kimball's new cookbook The New Rules.