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Julia Child inspires food festival on the South Coast

Julia Child
Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Harvard University
Julia Child

She was a much-loved pioneer of television cookery programs, but did you know Julia Child had a strong connection to the South Coast?

She brought French cuisine to our televisions and our tables - and Julia Child continues to inspire generations.

From being played by Meryl Streep in the 2009 movie, Julie and Julia, to HBO’s latest biopic series, her popularity and legacy reaches more than just our kitchens.

Her connection to Santa Barbara is being celebrated this week, during the food festival called Taste of Santa Barbara - from chefs cooking Julia-inspired dinners, to a cocktail crawl featuring custom libations crafted by Paul Child.

Child visited Montecito often as a schoolgirl, and retired there in later life.

Her great nephew, Alex Prud’homme told KCLU that his great aunt loved the European feel of Montecito and Santa Barbara.

"It reminded her of Provence in the South of France," he said.

"She began and ended important parts of her life in Montecito and Santa Barbara."

Prud’homme – who co-wrote Child's autobiography, My Life In France – says she was the same off screen as on.

"Julia is magical, what can I say?" said Prud'homme.

"Her personality was very optimistic, can-do, supportive. She was a wonderful mentor, she was very inquisitive. I can tell you that the person you saw on television was the real Julia.

"She took cooking very seriously, even though she was a ham on television."

He is sharing stories of his great aunt as part of awine and dessert fireside chat, along with Child’s niece Phila Cousins, for Taste of Santa Barbara, on Thursday evening.

He told KCLU that when he was working on co-writing her memoir with Child in Montecito, it was a "very joyous experience."

Prud'homme said that as a child, their family Thanksgiving meal was a "competitive sport."

" I came from a family of real foodies. Paul used to say, 'French cooking is a combination of high art and competitive sport,' and that's sort of the way we approached Thanksgiving in our household.

"We had a lot of good times."

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.