Hangin’ out with Julia

The new Julia Child documentary recalls her strong Colorado connection and that unforgettable voice


I can’t say I knew Julia Child well but I can do a fairly good “Joooo-leeeee-ahhh.” I grew up with her as a presence on the family’s black-and-white Zenith hosting this funny French cooking show on educational TV. 

I knew Dan Ackroyd’s bloody Saturday Night Live impersonation of Julia Child by heart-—a sketch she apparently absolutely loved. She was already a legend when I met her at a press lunch in Denver as a Boulder food editor. It was like having an audience with the Pope. 

In person, “The French Chef” looked and sounded exactly like her TV persona … only much taller and funnier. She seemed very foreign for someone so thoroughly American. Maybe it was her first job as an intelligence operative. Gazing in her eyes while I asked stupid questions, I had the distinct impression that Julia was flirting with me. Then again, I think she exuded that charm on just about everyone.  

Aspen’s Food & Wine Classic is now an always-sold-out, hyper-expensive culinary who’s who gathering. When the event started, Aspen was not on any culinary map and Colorado was a place to fly over, not dine in. Julia Child and Jacques Pepin helped change all that as Aspen brought more attention to the state and to Colorado’s considerable and growing food assets.  

In her later years I’d see Julia—tall and stooped—shuffling through hotel lobbies on the way to cooking demonstrations. The awed crowd parted for this seemingly frail elderly woman. 

Blind Ambition, a documentary about Zimbabwean refugees vying to become South Africa’s top sommeliers. 

After being helped onstage she straightened up and transformed into “Julia!” Whether wielding a knife or a chicken, she exuded oodles of infectious energy and an appetite for butter. And yes, every time she finished, she issued that iconic high-pitched “Bon appétit!” and left the stage to meet fans. 

The more I find out about this fascinating woman, the more I realize how much I don’t know. That’s why I’m looking forward to seeing Julia, a new documentary produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The film shows March 5 at Boulder High School as part of the 2022 Boulder International Film Festival (biff1.com). 

The festival begins with March 3’s CineCHEF tasting at Rembrandt Yard, the first time Boulder chefs have been able to gather to compete and celebrate in a long time. Featured chefs are Daniel Asher (Ash’Kara), Patrick Balcom (Farow), Michael Bertozzi (The Kitchen), Rich Byers (Jill’s), Linda Hampsten Fox (The Bindery), Chris Royster (Flagstaff House), Bob Sargent (Savory Cuisine) and Mike Thom (Spruce Farm & Fish). 

The event is followed by a Boulder showing of Blind Ambition, a documentary about Zimbabwean refugees vying to become South Africa’s top sommeliers. 

Other films showing March 3-6 at BIFF include:

Nordic by Nature about a Michelin-starred eatery on the Faroe Islands between Scotland and Iceland. Preceded by: Tanagokoro: A Culinary Portrait, a short documentary about a Japanese chef in London.

The Automat, a documentary featuring commentary by Mel Brooks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Colin Powell and Carl Reiner.

Song for Cesar, about Cesar Chavez, and The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, both focus on global food justice. 

The last time I saw Julia Child before she retired, I did something I almost never do as a journalist. I asked for an autograph. She looked at me and asked who the signature was for. “It’s for me, John,” I said, blushing profusely. I still cherish the reporter’s notebook with the inscription: “For John, Julia Child” on the cover. 

Local Food News

Many local liquor stores have removed Russian vodka from their shelves. Vodka fans are encouraged to replace that imported stuff with first-class spirits distilled in your neighborhood, like JL Distilling’s Sno Vodka (Boulder), DV8 Vodka (Boulder), Boulder Spirits Vodka (Boulder), Spirit Hound Vodka (Lyons) and DEKI Vodka (Lafayette). … The 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists for the revived James Beard Awards include Edwin Zoe of Boulder’s Zoe Ma Ma and Chimera Ramen (Best Restaurateur) and Casian Seafood in Lafayette (Best New Restaurant). Eric Skokan of Black Cat Farm Table Bistro is a semi-finalist for the Best Chef—Mountain States, along with Cody Cheetham (Tavernetta, Denver), Caroline Glover (Annette, Aurora), and Dana Rodriguez (Work & Class, Casa Bonita, Denver). … Coming soon: Urban Field Pizza and Market,150 Main St., Longmont. Also coming to Longmont, a chicken-salad-focused restaurant called Chicken Salad Chick. … Spring ahead! The Boulder Farmers Market and the Longmont Farmers Market open sun, rain or snow on April 2.

Good Food Lives Here

The recently announced food Oscars, the Good Food Awards for 2022, honor thoughtfully produced, carefully sourced and incredibly yummy artisan foods produced in the United States. Boulder-made winners are Pastificio’s casarecce and fusilli pasta and Jai Mix’s Spicy Toasted Coconut & Ginger snack mix. Other local Good Food winners include: Lavender Vanilla Goat Milk Caramel from Longmont’s Table Mountain Farm; Honeycomb from Willoughby Specialty Foods in Rollinsville; Black Hawk’s Mountain Girl Pickled Okra; Pueblo Chile Peach Deliciousness (RedCamper, Denver); Honey Caramel (Anellabees, Laporte); and Fennel Pollen Honey (Bee Squared, Berthoud). 

Words to Chew On

“It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate, you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.” —Julia Child.

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:20 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM, streaming at kgnu.org).

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