“This is Julia Child, Bon Appétit!

The American cooking teacher, author, and television personality makes her posthumous return to TV with “The Julia Child Challenge.”

Photo Courtesy / YouTube Discovery+

Julia Child – a name known worldwide. Whether you know her for her recipes, her emblematic personality, or simply just her kind persona, the late Child is celebrated for her incredible heart, humor and talent.  

The American cooking teacher, author, and television personality makes her posthumous return to TV with “The Julia Child Challenge,” a Food Network cooking show. The show features eight home cooks who are challenged  with recreating several of Child’s signature dishes. These top-notch cooks enter a replica of Child’s legendary kitchen to win the golden opportunity of a trip to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu, just as Julia had. 

The show has a one-of-a-kind angle, as Child is there on-screen through old video clips to provide advice, instructions and guidance. There are many scenes from the show where the screen is split, and you have Julia side by side with the contestants, doing the exact same thing as them. It felt as if Julia herself was in the actual show. And while it was through creative use of footage on a larger-than-life screen, this was the key component. It was the differentiator between being an archival, biographical show versus being a heartwarming, inspirational show.  

The eight contestants, having learnt Child’s techniques, would mimic her in specific ways. There was a moment in which they were challenged with making a soufflé, and they hung a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door of the oven, exactly how Julia did. It was small, sweet moments like this that gave “The Julia Child Challenge” its unique and charming touch.  

The contestants themselves help make the show more of a “Great British Baking Show” than “Hell’s Kitchen.” Everyone was overjoyed to be on set and cooking, feeling Julia’s presence. They also were exceedingly supportive of their fellow home chefs. The special thing about this show is that it is kind. No individual was there to tear anyone down, and that is an important lesson to be depicted in a competitive show, especially during these very volatile times.  

The replication of Child’s enigmatic home kitchen provided contestants, as well as viewers, with the heartwarming, welcoming feel that came along with Child’s personality. It felt as though the recreation of her kitchen extended the premise of the show from a simple cooking challenge to one that keeps Child’s presence alive, increasing the authenticity of the show. This not only brings the icon back to life, but it’s like she never truly left.  

What was incredibly moving was to see the variety of judges on the show. From “Top Chef” contestant Antonia Lofaso to acclaimed chefs Cliff Crooks and Brooke Williamson, the assortment of credentials shows the generational continuance of how Child’s work has affected everyone. 

“The best part about it is where I stand – and I had this moment multiple times when I was filming – was when you see the beautiful, old-fashioned television setup with the antennas,” Lofaso told Variety. “Julia Child is just smiling ear to ear…Then I’m standing next to her, coupled with generations of incredible guest judges.” 

The way the show was filmed, from capturing the small details of Julia’s kitchen to having her cook side by side with the contestants and showing them mirroring the actions Child once did herself, was exceptional. The show was all about bringing Julia to life; it evoked a sense of nostalgia, but in a way, it felt like she has always been with us. “This incredible woman, this mentor, this powerhouse not only continues to influence these generations, she’s timeless,” Lofaso added in the same March interview.