THE RECEPTION OF THE BOOK IN 1961:
"Probably the most comprehensive, laudable, and monumental work on
[French cuisine] was published this week, and it will probably remain as
the definitive work for nonprofessionals . . . [It is] a masterpiece."
Craig Claiborne's review in the New York Times when Mastering the Art of French Cooking was first published on October 16, 1961
"I only wish that I had written it myself."
THE INFLUENCE OF "MASTERING" OVER THE LAST FORTY YEARS
"Julia Child paved the way for Chez Panisse and so many others by
demystifying French food and by reconnecting pleasure and delight with
cooking and eating at the table. She brought forth a culture of American
ingredients and gave us all the confidence to cook with them in the
pursuit of flavor."
--Alice Waters, Chez Panisse
"It's hard to believe that forty years have passed since wonderful Julia
freed the American public from their fears of cooking French. By doing
so, she greatly expanded the audience for all serious food writers. Her
demystification prepared that public for the rest of us. I believe that
the television shows based on that landmark book did even more to
encourage reluctant cooks to try their hands . . . much to our benefit."
"Julia Child was the opposite of the mid-western, mid-American,
mid-century, middlebrow food I grew up on. She was also the antithesis
of the women I saw cooking, all of whom had serious June Lockhart
aspirations. Julia, on the other hand, turned imperfection into a hoot
and a holler. She seemed to teach cooking, but she was really
celebrating the human, with all its flaws and appetites. I was a goner
the first time I heard her voice, which happened to be while I was a
cook in a feminist restaurant that served nonviolent cuisine. If it
weren't for Julia Child, I might never have moved past brown rice and
tofu. Worse, I might still be afraid of being less than perfect. Cooking
through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I learned how to cook
without fear because I got over fearing failure. Julia Child gave an
entire generation this gift--and dinner, too."
"The more I have come to know Julia over the years, the more I realize
that Julia, the friend, the author, the TV superstar, are one and the
same. Mastering the Art of French Cooking was one of the most
influential books in twentieth-century America. It was the book, more
than any other, that, combined with her television shows, taught
Americans how to cook simple and not-so-simple classic French dishes.
Like Julia herself, the book is a classic, a catalyst in the refinement
of American culture. My own copy of Volume One (a 1975 edition) is so
worn that the duct tape holding it together looks natural. Although this
book wasn't intended for professionals, I knew a few young American
chefs who, like me, referred to it often because Julia was a trusted
secret mentor, and her recipes were clear-cut and dependable. They still
--Jasper White, Summer Shack
"The recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking are classics--dishes
that taste so good because the ingredients work together with no need
for gimmicks. Julia's opening sentence in the foreword to the '83
edition couldn't be more true: 'This is a book for the American cook who
can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules
. . . or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of
something wonderful to eat [emphasis mine].'
I remember the excitement and pride I felt when I first served Julia's Veal Orloff. The Soubise,
on its own, that glorious mixture of melting onion and rice, has never
left my repertoire. But mostly my old Volume One wears its badge of use
with all those errant chocolate fingerprints wandering across its torn
cover as I make Julia's Le Marquis or Soufflé au Chocolat.
This book will teach you to cook, show you How and tell you Why!"
--Lydia Shire, Biba
"I remember it was in the early 1970s when I first began to pour through
Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I was in heaven. All this technique
that I knew nothing about all laid out in English! It was all very
meticulous and the descriptions were so detailed and that's just what I
needed because I had no experience as a cook. I told my mother what I
was reading and she said, 'Oh that crazy woman? She's way too
complicated for me and the way I cook.' I never listened much to my
mother back then and just kept on reading. Today, JULIA, as I call it,
remains the book I turn to when I need to know how to do something."
--Gordon Hamersley, Hamersley's Bistro
"Long before there was a TV Food Network or Celebrity Chefs, there was
Julia Child. The first cookbook my mother purchased for our home was
Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was this book, along with
Julia's first television series and her obvious joy for cooking, that
helped influence me to enter the culinary field. Always warm and
gracious, still working hard sharing her knowledge and love of life,
Julia continues to be an inspiration to all who are privileged to know
her and choose to be part of this profession. She is and will always be
the 'Grand Lady of Cooking.' Thank you, Julia, for your encouragement
--David Cecchini, Wine Cask
"Mastering the Art of French Cooking was one of my first introductions
to my foundation of understanding the art of French cooking. The
combination of reading Julia's book, working in the kitchen, and
watching her television shows helped lead me to my beginnings in serious
cuisine. Julia is a dear friend and a great cook--the grande dame of
cooking, who has touched all of our lives with her immense respect and
appreciation of cuisine."
--Emeril Lagasse, Emeril's Restaurant
"Julia has slowly but surely altered our way of thinking about food.
She has taken the fear out of the term 'haute cuisine.' She has
increased gastronomic awareness a thousandfold by stressing the
importance of good foundation and technique, and she has elevated our
consciousness to the refined pleasures of dining. Through the years her
shows have kept me in rapt attention, and her humor has kept me in
She is a national treasure, a culinary trendsetter, and a born educator beloved by all."
--Thomas Keller, The French Laundry
"1961 was the year that gave us three important and enjoyable events:
Trying to avoid the current fashion for exaggeration, let me just say that this volume not only clarified what real French food is, but simply taught us to cook."
- Picasso painted his Still Life with a Lamp;
- Breakfast at Tiffanys had its premier with Audrey Hepburn;
- Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published by Knopf, starring our very own Julia Child.
--George Lang, Café des Artistes
"1961 a.d. Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is
published. Her black-and-white TV show on WGBH in Boston soon follows.
Child is one of the great teachers of the millennium: She is intelligent
and charismatic, and her undistinguished manual skills are not daunting
to her viewers. An entire generation of ambitious American home cooks is
--Jeffrey Steingarten, conferring the Vogue Millennial
Food and Drink Awards on "those events and persons who
have most advanced the joys and beauties of mealtime
over the previous thousand years"