This Wednesday, August 15, would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. And although the American chef may be most known as a television personality, author of the groundbreaking book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and most importantly, the woman responsible for introducing mainstream American to sophisticated French cuisine, Child's got quite the cool quotient as well.
Here are 10 things about the 6-foot, 2-inch female chef you may not have known to help celebrate her life, personality, and most of all, her cooking.
10.) She has been quoted as saying, "I think every woman should have a blowtorch."
9.) At the start of World War II in 1941, Child wanted to join the war effort but was rejected by the Navy's Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) because she was too tall. So, she joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a precursor to the CIA, and ended up helping to develop shark repellent to keep the toothy predators away from underwater explosives placed by the allies. Take that, haters.
8.) Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the famous cookbook created by Child and fellow Cordon Bleu students Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, took 10 years to make and was rejected by its original publisher for being too encyclopedia-like. Eventually, it was picked up, published in 1961, and became the culinary community's go-to guide.7.)
Child was a late bloomer and didn't know she wanted to be a chef until she was 36, when, after a gastronomical revelation following a meal of oysters, sole meunière, and fine wine in Rouen, France, she enrolled at the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.
6.) She was a breast cancer survivor.
5.) Child's cooking show, The French Chef, was the first show captioned for deaf people, and each half-hour show took her around 19 hours to prepare for. She eventually donated her TV kitchen to the Smithsonian Institution.
4.) She has a rose named after her. Of course, it's the color of butter.
3.) She fiercely rejected any attempts at product endorsements using her name and nearly sued Ocean Spray for creating a character called "Julia Chicken" until they backed down. Child donated any proceeds from cases settled out of court to public television.
2.) In 1993, Child became the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame; and in 2000, she received France's highest honor: the Legion d'Honneur.
1.) Child has been quoted as saying, "The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."