Let the Spirit of Julia Child Guide You in This New Monthly Cooking Challenge

WGBH and the Julia Child Foundation launch "You & Julia," a social media contest inspired by recipes from the iconic "French chef."

Julia Child, with shellfish, on an episode of "The French Chef"

Julia Child, with shellfish, on an episode of The French Chef. / © WGBH

Julia Child didn’t start cooking professionally until later in her life—but maybe that would have been different if she had the Internet at her fingertips. Aspiring chefs today can stream online episodes of Child’s game-changing TV show, The French Chef, and they can pull up the directions for some of her iconic recipes with just a quick web search. Now, a monthly social media challenge from WGBH enables home cooks to share their recipe attempts with the same public television network that made Julia Child a household name. Who knows? Maybe you could be the next Julia Child.

Called “You and Julia,” WGBH is teaming up with the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts on the social media challenge. The prize is bragging rights (and ideally, culinary satisfaction—we bet your family or roommates will be rooting for you). It begins this month—just in time for National Pancake Day on March 12—with Child’s citrusy crêpes Suzette recipe. A “marvelous flaming dessert,” as Child said on her show, crêpes Suzette uses live fire and brandy to caramelize skinny pancakes with sugar, butter, orange juice, and orange peel.

Intimidated by open flames on this first go-round? The “You and Julia” challenge just requires home cooks get inspired by the recipe, says WGBH media relations manager Emily Balk, not necessarily to recreate it perfectly.

“I love to cook at home, and when I was thinking about this, I thought it would be fun to stay true to it and honor [Child’s] legacy, but I’ve already started thinking about creative things to do” with crêpes Suzette in mind, Balk says.

To enter the contest, users must submit a photo of their effort, and a comment about it, on WGBH’s Facebook page. People are welcome to share their “You & Julia” efforts on other social media platforms, too, but Facebook is the official entry, Balk says. Submissions for the crêpes Suzette challenge are due by March 17, and later in the month, WGBH will feature the best entries on its website and Facebook pages. WGBH will announce a new recipe challenge at the beginning of each month.

“And don’t be shy,” says James Beard Award-winning baker and chef Joanne Chang, who helped the local public media outfit announce the first challenge. “Failures, successes, kitchen disasters, we want to see them all. Most of all, take Julia’s advice: Be fearless, and above all, have fun.”

While WGBH is not publishing Child’s recipe instructions, it has recreated the steps in GIF form, as part of its ongoing collaboration with the Julia Child Foundation. There are a handful of other GIF stories of The French Chef recipes available now, and new ones are uploaded regularly, Balk says. The monthly social media challenge is an effort to further “tap into Julia Child’s fandom in the Boston area” by making those tools even more interactive, she says.

“Julia Child has been such an important part of ’GBH’s commitment to learning,” Balk says. “She’s so fun, and made cooking at home so accessible.”

Since the 1960s, the French Chef has inspired countless other chefs, whether they cook for hundreds of people nightly at their restaurants, or simply for their kids at home. With You & Julia, WGBH is hoping the show’s legacy continues to inspire many, many more. Bonne chance to the home cooks emboldened to take on the challenge, and bon appétit.