While our Featured Betty column shows off women who are currently doin’ their thing and doin’ it well, we wanted to give a nod to the Classic Betties. The Classic Betties are women who were pioneers and paved the way for women in 2014 to have a career that floats their boat, whatever that may be.  Our first Classic Betty is Julia Child. Bon Appetit!

Julia Child is what we consider to be the classic Betty. She was a pioneer in the culinary field, which up until that point was a complete boys club.  She became a strong role model for women by being unapologetically proud of her career and she wanted other women to share in that joy.  Some people might have felt like they were at a disadvantage, starting an entirely new career path at the age of 39, but not Julia. She showed us that no matter what, it’s never too late to find what rings your bell.

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”  -Julia Child

Julia was enthusiastic, witty, and completely unflappable. A thirty pound turkey falls on the floor in the middle of your live television show? No problem, we’ll just dust it off and back in the pan it goes!  Most of all, the late great Julia was authentic. There were no heirs of perfection in her cooking. She was far less concerned with how her food looked and more with how it tasted.

The Secret Life of Julia Child

When did she start cooking?

Julia graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in March 1951, at the age of 39. She failed the exam on her first try. She tried again one year later and passed. Prior to moving to France in 1949 she didn’t know anything about cooking.

What did she do before becoming a chef?

During WWII, Julia was a typist for the US Information Agency in Washington DC, then a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence, and eventually served as Chief of the OSS Registry. The OSS (Office of Strategic Services) later became the CIA.

What would she have requested for her last meal?

A crème brulée from Le Cirque, a midtown Manhattan French restaurant.

Her favorite kind of wine?

Gin

What advice would she give an aspiring chef?

“Get the best possible training. Try to work in the best restaurant in town. Be willing to do anything. Above all, be nice!” (interview from Fern Berman)

What she was most proud of?

“Among the many things, I think my work with French bread. Making is possible in the home kitchen. Lining the oven with quarry tile. Now everyone does it. I think I was one of the first.” (interview from Fern Berman)

Oh Julia, you make us laugh.

“I was 32 when I started cooking. Up until then, I just ate.”

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”

“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”