Merci, Chere Julia

August 15th, 2012

A Brief Homage to The French Chef

As those of you who have seen my 2011 holiday video know, I am a big fan of Julia Child. Apparently, so is much of the rest of the world.

It has been a delight to see the attention showered on this brilliant woman, chef, writer, entertainer and entrepreneur on the 100th anniversary of her birth. In particular, I love this video montage produced by WGBH in Boston and of course the Google Doodle pictured here.

If you’re even vaguely interested in learning more about Julia Child, I do recommend her autobiography, My Life in France, written by Child and her husband’s grandnephew. She had a truly remarkable life, which you can focus on exclusively, as opposed to watching the movie, “Julie and Julia,” which forces you to split your attention between Julia and, well, someone else.

So what does Julia Child have to teach us about communication?

– First, I think she and I have essentially the same motto: know your audience. She understood that to write a French cookbook for American housewives, she would have to account for differences in cultures, weights and measures, kitchen equipment, availability of ingredients and the like. It wouldn’t be enough to simply translate recipes, as her collaborators might have thought.

– Second, Julia also understood that to be embraced, you must be genuine. Her zest for life and passion for the culinary arts were always apparent, and her penchant for goofiness made her all the more authentic, and endearing.

– Third, you must truly make a difference. Why communicate at all? To enlighten, educate, entertain, to inform, instruct, inculcate. The people to whom you are communicating are infinitely more likely to respond if they believe that you are writing in order to help them in some fashion, that you care and want to make a positive impact. It has always been clear to me that Julia Child deeply wanted to enrich the lives of her readers and TV  audiences with new skills, perspectives and experiences.

And with that I say, bon appétit!


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