Julia Child Shows How to Edit Videotape with a Meat Cleaver, and Cook Meat with a Blow Torch

Julia Child changed the way Amer­i­cans eat. Before Julia, French cook­ing was seen as some­thing reserved sole­ly for fine restau­rants. Recipes for home-cooked meals stressed hygiene and con­ve­nience over fresh­ness and taste. Thus, as was the case at my grandmother’s house, din­ner would often involve a pork chop cooked with­in an inch of its life and a hor­rif­ic jel­lo sal­ad con­coc­tion.

But with the launch of her huge­ly influ­en­tial PBS TV show, The French Chef (1963–1973), Julia Child start­ed to change America’s mind about what good food is and how it should be pre­pared. It’s hard to imag­ine the recent food­ie rev­o­lu­tion with its empha­sis on sea­son­al, fresh ingre­di­ents with­out Child.

While the series was a show­case for her cook­ing prowess — honed by years of train­ing at the pres­ti­gious Le Cor­don Bleu and with some of France’s most famous mas­ter chefs – Child’s play­ful, eccen­tric per­son­al­i­ty is what turned the show into a hit. The French Chef was video­taped live from start to fin­ish, so every screw up was record­ed for pos­ter­i­ty. And yet those mis­takes — along with her par­tic­u­lar way of speak­ing and her endur­ing love of wine — endeared her to the audi­ence. She was always poised, resource­ful and sur­pris­ing­ly fun­ny.

You can see that sense of humor on dis­play in the video above, which was made for the staff’s hol­i­day par­ty just after the show pre­miered. With tongue square­ly in cheek, Child demon­strates how to edit video with mask­ing tape and a meat clever. (Note: do not edit video­tape with mask­ing tape and a meat cleaver.) When asked by her inter­view­er (in this slight­ly longer ver­sion here) whether the tape she was using was spe­cial, Child retorts, “Well, it’s just a nice sticky tape.”

Anoth­er exam­ple of Child’s keen sense of humor, along with her skills with a blow torch, is this late 1980s appear­ance on Late Night with David Let­ter­man. Child orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed on show­ing Let­ter­man how to make a ham­burg­er, but when the hot plate failed to work, she quick­ly impro­vised a brand new dish – beef tartare grat­iné.

via @WFMU & The Atlantic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Remem­ber­ing Julia Child on Her 100th Birth­day with Her Clas­sic Appear­ance on the Let­ter­man Show

MIT Teach­es You How to Speak Ital­ian & Cook Ital­ian Cui­sine All at Once (Free Online Course)

Sci­ence & Cook­ing: Har­vard Profs Meet World-Class Chefs in a Unique Free Online Course

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

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