Synopses & Reviews
Julia Childandrsquo;s TV show, The French Chef, was extraordinarily popular during its broadcast from 1963 until 1973. Child became a cultural icon in the 1960s, and, in the years since, she and her show have remained enduring influences on American cooking, American television, and American culture. In this concise book, Dana Polan considers what made Childandrsquo;s program such a success. It was not the first televised cooking show, but it did define and popularize the genre. Polan examines the development of the show, its day-to-day production, and its critical and fan reception. He argues that The French Chef changed the conventions of televisionandrsquo;s culinary culture by rendering personality indispensable. Child was energetic and enthusiastic, and her cooking lessons were never just about food preparation, although she was an effective and unpretentious instructor. They were also about social mobility, the discovery of foreign culture, and a personal enjoyment and fulfillment that promised to transcend domestic drudgery. Polan situates Julia Child and The French Chef in their historical and cultural moment, while never losing sight of Childandrsquo;s unique personality and captivating on-air presence.
Critical study of Julia Child's pathbreaking cooking show.
Dana Polan considers what made Julia Child s TV show, The French Chef, so popular during its original broadcast and such enduring influences on American cooking, American television, and American culture since then.
About the Author
“Julia Child’s The French Chef is a fabulous book filled with delicious nuggets about the television series that changed what Americans ate—and what Americans watched on television. The book is both entertaining and informative, and it is timely, for it has been fifty years since the series first aired. Dana Polan is as bright, insightful, and companionable as was the television series. Bravo!”—Andrew F. Smith, Editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America“In Julia Child’s The French Chef, Dana Polan offers a fascinating new perspective on Child and her on-air persona. He demonstrates the crucial interplay among the celebrity (Julia), handler (her husband, Paul), and producer (the public television station WGBH), and the way they all came together into such a magical whole. This investigation is an important contribution to our understanding of Child’s seminal role in shaping American attitudes toward food.”—Darra Goldstein, Editor in Chief, Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture“With a refreshing intellectual passion, Dana Polan offers a compelling glimpse into the industrial and cultural ethos of Julia Child and her television show, The French Chef. Polan carefully delineates a model for how to study the media through an individual program, and in so doing, provides a definitive reason for the need to study popular culture in a theoretically and methodologically rigorous way. Essential for those in food and food-related studies, this insightful and engaging book will also be a must-read for media studies scholars.”—Sarah Banet-Weiser, author of Kids Rule!: Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship
Table of Contents
1. The Difference She Made 1
2. Television Cookery b.c. (Before Child) 41
3. French Cuisine, American Style 78
4. The Beginnings of The French Chef 114
5. Prepping The French Chef 137
6. The Success of The French Chef 185
7. New Beginnings and the Ending to The French Chef 214
8. Kitchen Drama 231
Further Readings on TV Cooking Shows 285