HBO Max recently released “Julia,” an eight-part comedy-drama about the life and work of pioneering chef Julia Child.
While she was born in California and studied culinary arts in France, she and her husband Paul moved to Cambridge in 1961 where they lived for 40 years.
The impact Child made on the Cambridge community and its culinary scene can still be felt today, if only you know where to look.
HBO’s new series, “Julia,” was filmed in 2020 and 2021 in and around Boston, focusing on its first Boston TV show, “The French Chef.”
For example, Crews took over Union Oyster House, transforming it to the 1970s version that Child visited frequently.
“It was one of Julia’s favorite restaurants,” said Union Oyster House owner Joe Milano. says WHDH. “She loved oysters, seafood. She was a bit of a Renaissance lady.
At the Savenor Market on Kirkland Street, on the corner of the children’s former residence, the children’s “Bon appétit” inscription is still engraved on the sidewalk outside.
Third-generation butcher and market owner Ron Savenor lit up when talking about the close connection Julia Child had with the Savenors and their meat market. Ron Savenor’s father, Jack Savenor, ran the butcher shop from the 1940s to the late 1980s.
“He was a wonderful person,” Savenor said of Child. “I remember when I was a kid helping her carry her groceries home with Paul… It was like a family. She comes home for dinners with my parents or vacations.
Child got most of the meat for his shows and cookbooks from Savenor, touting the company on television and in magazine interviews. Jack Savenor himself would make regular appearances on “The French Chef”. There’s even a photo of them together at the Smithsonian, where Child also donated his kitchen.
“I’m so touched by the name my dad and Julia created,” Savenor said. Savenor’s Market appears in “Julia”, although filming took place on a mock-up, and Ron Savenor was cast as an extra while actor John Fiore plays Jack Savenor.
Another Harvard Square favourite, Harvest, has hosted Child for countless dinner parties over the years. The child became close friends with the restaurant’s original owners, Jane and Ben Thompson, and table 102 in the back corner of the main dining room is still nicknamed “Julia’s Corner” to this day, Chris Himmel said , chairman of Himmel Hospitality Group, which now owns Harvest. .
Julia Child’s fondest memory of Himmel, he said, was hosting her 90th birthday party at Harvest.
“To experience firsthand such an incredible evening honoring a woman who meant so much to all of us was something I will never forget,” Himmel said. “Even at 90, Julia still cleared almost every plate of the eight or ten dishes we served!”
Himmel Hospitality employee Valerie Nin, the Grill 23 & Bar’s pastry chef, helped film the show, creating on set one of Child’s favorite desserts: Floating Island, a floating baked meringue on a heavy cream sauce and topped with spun sugar or caramel.
“It was such a cool experience,” Nin said. “So much work and so much research goes into getting every detail right.”
This attention to detail, especially when it comes to the show’s food, was paramount to head food stylist Christine Tobin. Every recipe they cooked, Tobin said, came from Child’s own cookbooks and was prepared in a special kitchen built right on the set.
“It was imperative for me that all of the scripted foods be taken from Julia Child’s book,” Tobin said. “I wanted to celebrate her hard work and genius in developing recipes – her recipes are foolproof!”
The show’s producers were so focused on accuracy that they even called Ron Savenor to see if he remembered where she kept her phone in her kitchen. He remembered that treat, he said, along with his actual phone number.
Another Julia Child favorite was the first Legal Sea Foods in Cambridge. Located in Inman Square, the no-frills joint opened in 1968 next to the Berkowitz family’s legal fish market.
The child often stopped at the market to buy fresh swordfish, tuna or oysters, and occasionally dined out, said Roger Berkowitz, president and CEO of Legal Sea Foods. Chowhound. The Inman Square market and restaurant were destroyed by fire in 1980, but Legal Sea Foods now has over thirty locations nationwide.
Lydia Shire, currently head chef at Scampo at the Liberty Hotel, befriended Child when Shire worked at Harvest and other top Boston restaurants in the 1970s.
“We had so many laughs and fun memories together it’s hard to even pick the best ones,” Shire said, adding that in addition to her adventurous spirit (Child once asked Shire to drop everything and to spend a week in London, for which Shire, of course, said yes), Child had a good and generous soul.
“She really asked herself, ‘What can I do to improve the world of food and the lives of my family and friends? “, Shire said. “She was really selfless in that way.”
According to Shire, one of Child’s favorite places to dine in Boston was peach farm in Chinatown. “Even though French cuisine had her heart, she really loved Chinese cuisine,” Shire said.
Other known Child’s favorites include L’Espalier, Brasserie Jo, Maison Robert and Lumière, all of which are now closed. However, Frank McClelland of L’Espalier now owns Frank in Beverly, and the Maison Robert owner’s nephew, Lucien Robert, opened Petit Robert in the South End.
“I can’t say a bad thing about him because I don’t have a bad thought or a bad memory about him,” Ron Savenor said, echoing the sentiment expressed by anyone who knew Child during his decades at Boston. “We were a small part of his life, but it was a meaningful part.”
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