The Postal Service to Release Julia Child and Joyce Chen Stamps
This Friday, in a ceremony in Chicago, the United States Postal Service will release its “Celebrity Chefs Forever” series featuring James Beard, Edna Lewis, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, and two Cambridge culinary icons: Julia Child and Joyce Chen.
Child’s and Chen’s portraits were provided to the Postal Service by the Julia Child Foundation and the Chen family. The stamps were designed by art director Greg Breeding and feature digital illustrations by Jason Seiler, depicting the chefs in a style intended to resemble oil paintings.
Child is best known for demystifying French cuisine for an American audience through her two-volume book set, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and extremely popular television shows, The French Chef, Dinner at Julia’s, and the Emmy-winning In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs.
Child filmed episodes of The French Chef through 1966, which earned a Peabody Award and a 1966 Primetime Emmy. In 1981, she cofounded the American Institute of Wine and Food, and a decade later she and Jacques Pépin worked with Boston University to help create a graduate program in gastronomy. In 1996, TV Guide named Child one of the 50 greatest TV stars of all time.
Joyce Chen might not receive the same attention as Child, but was just as influential, promoting northern-style Chinese cuisine at a time when soy sauce was considered exotic. From her landmark Joyce Chen Restaurant, which opened on Concord Avenue in Cambridge in 1958, to her cookbooks and trailblazing PBS television show, Chen introduced unfamiliar dishes such as Peking duck, moo shu pork, and hot-and-sour soup.
At her restaurant, Chen popularized the now ubiquitous buffet-style dinner service. Through her popular cooking classes and her Joyce Chen Cook Book, she taught hundreds of recipes and as well as tips on proper chopstick usage, the importance of tea, and the preparation of perfect rice. In the decade following, Chen’s cookbook sold more than 70,000 copies.
WGBH eventually asked Chen to host her own show, Joyce Chen Cooks. Filmed in the late 1960s, the show is credited with greatly expanding America’s interest in and knowledge of Chinese food and culture. Chen died of Alzheimer’s disease in Lexington in 1994 and was posthumously included in the James Beard Foundation Hall of Fame.