Even though Julia Child stood at an impressive 6' 2", it's clear that she never looked down upon any determined cook. During Julia Child Restaurant Week, celebrated nationwide from Tuesday, August 7 to Wednesday, August 15, five metro Phoenix restaurants look up to America's most beloved French chef with a special fork-wielding salute. Celebrate what would have been Julia's 100th birthday by pulling up a seat at one of these once-in-a-century dinners.
"Julia Child's advice to 'try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and, above all, have fun,' has broadened the knowledge and appeal of French cooking and inspired millions to try new foods and classic preparations, says chef Vincent Guerithault. "Her inspiration to all contributed greatly to my success, paving the way for the American palate to accept and, indeed be inspired, to enjoy the art of French cooking."
Throughout the duration of the honorary week, Guerithault offers a prix fixe menu that includes a choice of starter, entrée and dessert. Options featuring dishes from Julia's cookbooks include chilled vichyssoise, duck confit with an orange sauce and gratin dauphinois (scalloped potatoes), and crème caramel. The price per guest is $35, plus tax and gratuity. Call 602-224-0225 for reservations for seatings between 5 and 8:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, August 15 at 7 p.m., the Phoenix chapter of Les Dames d' Escoffier International hosts A Tribute Dinner Celebrating Julia Child's 100th Birthday.
One hundred guests get wined and dined with a cocktail reception followed by a four course family-style meal prepared by Chef Greg LaPrad. Using recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, LaPrad selected dishes which incorporate local seasonal ingredients. Pastry chef Tracy Dempsey prepares individual Reine de Saba birthday cakes - Julia's favorite chocolate cake - for the final course.
A LDEI member hosts each table, discussing personal memories of Julia along with history of the evening's dishes. Tickets cost $125 each and include a special menu book, with proceeds to benefit the Arizona chapter of Careers through Culinary Arts Programs. The full menu and reservation information can be viewed through Brown Paper Tickets.
Chef James Porter recalls the humorous side of Julia, noting this hilarious and bloody SNL skit featuring Dan Akroyd as The French Chef and favorite quotes such as, "The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook," in a recent newsletter.
To do his part during the week of festivities, or at least festive eating, Porter prepares a three-course Julia-inspired menu available for dinner throughout the week from 5 to 10 p.m. Start with coquilles Saint Jacques, enjoy an entree such as sole meuniere with roasted oysters, asparagus, mayer lemon and browned butter, and finish up with a trio of desserts including a micro soufflé.
The entire meal costs $35 per person, with wine pairings available for an additional $10. View the full menu and reservation information at the Petite Maison web site.
In honor of the big birthday, Sophie's dishes out a three-course prix fixe menu for $45 a person on Wednesday, August 15. The menu consists of a foie gras appetizer with a berry gastrique on top of a folded crepe, rabbit chausseur (hunter-style with mushrooms), and chocolate mousse. Each course gets paired with wine.
Alternatively, try out a month-long special through August from 4 to 5:30 p.m. daily. For $40 per couple, choose any one appetizer, two entrees (except for lamb and filet), and one dessert. Just say you're there for the "summer special."
Dine on rich French dishes dishes like escargots, beef bourguignon and crème brulee that would make Julia proud. View the full menu at the Sophie's French Bistro web site. Call 602-956-8897 for reservations.
Join chef Christopher Gross as he breaks bread in honor of his old friend and fellow chef. A three-course meal is available during Julia Child's birthday week, complete with one loaf of Christopher's house made French baguette per couple. Gross appeared with Child on In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs.
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"The menu is comprised of items from her cookbooks, and a couple of the recipes are ones we cooked together at her house in Cambridge and at my house here," says Gross.
Options include cuisses de Grenouille (frog legs), steak frites, coq au vin and tarte tatin. The cost per person is $40, with wine pairings available for an additional $15. View the full menu complete with pairings via Christopher's Facebook page.