Anthony bourdain and julia child moving past convention

Anthony Bourdain and Julia Child’s talents were multi-faceted. Each brought a unique set of abilities to the trade that ultimately allowed them to move past convention, and express themselves in a profoundly useful way. Julia’s childlike energy, curiosity and intelligence allowed her to translate the intricacies of French cuisine to an American audience. Bourdain would combine his experience as a chef, love of rock-and-roll and literature, and write about the underbelly of commercial kitchens. He would later move on to culinary adventures abroad and create stories that were not only riveting but educational as well.

Julia Child didn’t start out as a cook. During her early years of school, her towering stature (she stood at 6’2”) served her well. She excelled in basketball, golf and tennis, not to mention small game hunting. In fact while attending Smith College in Massachusetts, she aspired to be a writer, often submitting unsolicited manuscripts to The New Yorker, although none of her writing was ever published. Julia even worked for the government as an research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services. It wasn’t until later in life and after marriage that Julia found her passion for cooking. Her husband Paul Child had lived in Paris and was known for his sophisticated palate. When Paul was assigned to work at the American Embassy in Paris, Julia discovered French food and would often recall her first meal in Rouen as ‘a culinary revelation’. She enrolled in the Cordon Bleu cooking school shortly thereafter, a six month intensive that marked the beginning of her journey as the grande dame of French cuisine.


Anthony Bourdain by contrast, considered by most as a luminary in the culinary world, knew early on that he wanted to be a cook. While attending Vassar College he began his career as a dishwasher at the Dreadnaught, a cavernous, old fish shack on the Cape where he got a taste of what it meant to be a cook stating “The life of the cook was a life of adventure, looting, pillaging and rock-and-rolling through life with a carefree disregard for all conventional morality.” He would drop out of Vassar after his second year, enroll in The Culinary Institute and never look back.


For both Bourdain and Child, food changed their lives in unexpected ways. Both moved beyond the traditional methods of education, and created their own path in the culinary world. Both side-stepped convention and strived to learn for their own vested reasons. Child would ultimately remain in the culinary world and master French cuisine, pen several best-selling cookbooks and become an adored world-famous television personality in the process. Bourdain however would take leave from running restaurant kitchens. He wrote several books (some NY Times bestsellers), became a sought after television personality by hosting multiple Emmy Award winning food shows, and contributed to several publications throughout his career.

Child and Bourdain both used their experience with food to educate. I have always enjoyed watching old episodes of The French Chef with Child, and still do. Bourdain’s inherent skills as a writer will undoubtedly lead me back to his books again and again. His view of Vegetarians and Vegans ‘To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food’ is controversial, but well taken. Although I did write a Vegan dessert cookbook, I never felt defined by certain dietary practices. A perpetual curiosity towards wellness will continue to influence how I develop recipes. Since our bodies are in a constant state of change, nutritional needs vary. Following any diet exclusively goes against human nature. Every diet and type of food has its’ advantages, as inadvertently taught by Bourdain and Child. Food should be enjoyed; follow your path. You may just stumble upon our own success story.

Oven Roasted Chicken

Inspired by Julia Child’s Broiled Chicken Recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking 1961


-1 whole chicken

-olive oil

-2 garlic cloves, minced

-fresh ground black pepper

-sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the chicken from packaging and rinse under cool water. Pat dry. Season with sea salt and pepper and rub the chicken with the minced garlic. Drizzle olive oil over the bird, rubbing into the skin. Line a roasting pan with foil and place chicken in the pan. Bake for 20 minutes per pound and remove from oven. Let sit for 10 minutes before carving, serve warm. Serves 4-6

Crisped Oven fries


-4 medium potatoes

-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

-sea salt


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease lightly with cooking spray. Cut the potatoes into strips about 1/2 inch thick. Soak the fries in cold water for about ten minutes. Dry them well in between paper towels and place into baking pan toss to coat with olive oil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Season with sea salt and serve promptly. Serves 4-6

Sign up for my newsletter for monthly articles like this. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram! Thanks.

Laura Crotty