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Chef’s Kiss

Legendary PBS star Julia Child’s adventures in television continue with a second helping of Julia

When Julia Child (played by Happy Valley’s Sarah Lancashire) announced, in the season finale of the scripted series about her rise to fame, that she would only do a second season of her public television cooking show if she could return to France first to recharge her batteries, the creative team behind the biographical show felt very much the same. “We always wanted to go to France. It was actually part of the plan for season one,” reveals series creator Daniel Goldfarb. “Then, because of COVID, it became too complicated. So, we planted the seed for ourselves at the end of season one, so that we had no choice but to take the show to France. I’m so glad that we got to — and then we got to throw Paris in as well.”

When the second season begins, Julia and husband Paul (Frasier alum David Hyde Pierce) are living the dream in the South of France, where she’s working on her second book with co-author Simone “Simca” Beck (Isabella Rossellini). But although tempers often flare between the two headstrong women in the kitchen, there was nothing but love between those preparing the dishes behind the scenes. The show’s food stylist, Christine Tobin, relished the challenge of bringing mouth-watering optics to these meals, while production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein immaculately recreated French farmer’s markets. “When you’re in a place that is beautiful as Provence and its surroundings, you want to be seduced by the locale,” says the production designer. “We were stunned by the beauty that we saw and the richness of colours in the markets. Every single thing, from the lowliest peach to the grandest banquet, was gorgeous in colour.”


In the second episode, in which Julia and Simca prepare a heavenly feast for their guests, Tobin even discovered a surprising resource, which made for a joyful experience both in front of and behind the camera. “The homeowner actually allowed me to use the garden in her backyard to pick peppers, tomatoes and herbs to create this menu,” she says. “All these special moments enhanced that event. And how it’s presented through the camera is exactly the spirit of that time, when we were all together and sharing the food of that land. It was really special.”

Nothing, however, astonishes this team like the lead actress’ innate ability to morph into the beloved host of TV’s The French Chef. “Because Sarah is an incredibly good actress and pretty magnetic herself, she brought that character to life. The words just sing with her. Her personality is powerful and strong. You believe her,” says von Brandenstein. “I was shocked when I found out she really wasn’t six-foot-two tall. The woman seemed to grow in front of our eyes.” To Goldfarb and showrunner Chris Keyser, the essence of Julia has always been the most important part of the interpretation. “Obviously she’s not doing an imitation of Julia,” says Keyser. “But periodically, I just watch her, the way she moves, and I think that’s Julia Child. The way she leans and walks and the tilt of her head. There’s just something about her taking that in and expressing it through something that’s specifically Sarah, that gives you the essence of her and then even more.”


Because of the talent of Lancashire, and her co-stars David Hyde Pierce and Bebe Neuwirth, the show has afforded its pick of a who’s who in American theatre — even if they have to travel to Boston to shoot their scenes. Among them, Danny Burstein, Stockard Channing and Judith Light make their presence known this season. “Theatre people were like, ‘Hey, I want to be on it.’ It just became sort of a fun thing,” says Goldfarb. “And Boston’s close — France is not close, but it’s France — so we were able to get people.” The season also welcomes My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star and creator Rachel Bloom, as well as Hacks star Hannah Einbinder. “It’s been a thrill for me,” admits Goldfarb. “It feels like this incredible rep company and every three weeks we get to put on a one act play with the best actors in the world. It’s just been amazing.”

As the writers continue telling the story of Child’s life, they appear to have nailed the reason everyone loves the iconic chef.

“It’s not that she was the world’s best cook, which she’s admitted herself. And it’s not that she changed the way America cooks, by and large, because we don’t mostly make classic French cooking,” says Keiser. “I think it’s because she lived a life that suggests a way to live, to all the rest of us. The kind of sense that, whatever your passion is, you should try to pursue it. You should find joy wherever you can. You should accept your own limitations, because that’s OK, and you should be perfectly OK with failing on route to getting wherever you want to go. All of those things seemed, to us, like a design for living.”

Julia, airing Sunday, December 3, on Crave1

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