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Julia Child’s kitchen, enshrined at the Smithsonian

Right in the middle of my straight-forward, tightly scripted, 10-question interview with Ris Lacoste, the chef dropped a casual reference to “Julia,” as in:

“Julia told me that. She said, ‘Ris, you are going to have meatloaf on your menu, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes, Julia.'”

I’m sorry, when a chef mentions “Julia,” a reporter must deviate from the script and ask a few extra questions, to wit:

Y&H: I’m sorry, who is Julia?

Lacoste: Julia Child. She was a good friend, and we were in each other’s company three or four times a year through the American Institute of Wine and Food.  Then…I cooked for her 90th birthday when she came to open the kitchen at the Smithsonian. I was part of the organization that she established, and I was on the national board. But she has been in my life since…in 1982 in Paris at La Varenne. She came to my graduation at La Varenne. Just life, our paths crossed all the time. She did a hot air balloon trip with us in Burgundy, and then I was at the Harvest [restaurant] in Cambridge and she lived right around the corner. She used to come to the Harvest all the time… We weren’t the best of friends, but we were more than acquaintances. I’ve been out to dinner with her many times. I’ve been to all of her houses…

Y&H: So I have to ask. Did you know that Julia was a spy?

Lacoste: Oh, sure. Absolutely. Again, being part of the AIWF, she was our girl. You know what I mean? We all knew her very well. Yeah, we knew all that.

Y&H: She told you stories?

Lacoste: Not really. Maybe she did or whatever; when we were together, we were usually talking food or different things, usually in groups. I think I spent alone time with her three or four times. I don’t know. In fact, just reading her book, My Life in France, was just fabulous, andthen seeing Julie & Julia was fun. Fun to see her young. I thought Meryl Streep did an amazing job. To all of us who loved her, it was fun to see that, to see her still with us.

Photo by Linda N. via Flickr Creative Commons, Attribution License