Chef Tales… Our Julia Becomes My Julia

As a kid who cooked, I fell for Julia. The French Chef I watched on television so long ago. She had me at “bon appétit.” It was a love that blossomed over a lifetime.

I was 13 years old when my mother gave me my first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  We brought home a whole chicken from Ralph’s Supermarket in Pasadena, and using the illustrations from the book, I quickly set about teaching myself how to truss that pretty bird. It took awhile.

Flash forward to Paris.  Rungis, the largest outdoor wholesale food market in the world.  Rungis is a veritable little city – actually it’s the size of Monaco.  A humming hive of activity centered on beautiful food and tended by an army of workers.  Located in a Paris suburb, each day restaurateurs, chefs and business retailers make the pilgrimage to Rungis to shop and haggle with the merchants.  Entry to Rungis is a prized ticket – it’s not open to the public, and you need an “in.” Our “in” was the 1995 IACP conference held that year in Paris. Wild with excitement, my pal Alison Reich and I scooped up two spots for a rare tour of Rungis.

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