It has been 11 years since Julia Child, the mother of French-American cooking and the first face of culinary television, passed away. This year, the Julia Child Foundation announced the first annual Julia Child Award, which will be presented every year to a chef who “encourages people to cook for themselves, to better understand where food comes from, to value eating and drinking and the importance that both can play in improving the quality of life,” according to the foundation’s statement.
"There's a list of about half a dozen characteristics they are looking for. It's looking at what Julia represented and why she was so successful, that combination of education and entertainment, passion and commitment to the subject," Todd Shulkin, executive director of the Julia Child Foundation told the Associated Press. "We're looking at trying to shine a spotlight on people who are prodding change, challenging what Americans are eating and drinking, and encouraging them to cook for themselves."
The first winner will be announced in August 15, Julia Child’s birthday, and the award itself will be presented in October at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Instead of a cash prize, the winner will receive a $50,000 grant to “pay it forward” to a food-related nonprofit group. Even though the winner will not be announced for months, there is much speculation over who the first recipient will be. An obvious choice is Alice Waters, another Californian chef and culinary icon. Other possible choices include Jacques Pepin, an iconic chef and close friend of Julia Child, and Thomas Keller. Both Waters and Keller appear on The Daily Meal’s list of the 50 Most Influential People in Food.
The winner will be chosen by a panel of judges, consisting of Jim Dodge (director of specialty culinary programs for Bon Appétit Management Co.), Darra Goldstein (cookbook author and professor of Russian at Williams College), Russ Parsons (food columnist of the Los Angeles Times), Nancy Silverton (co-owner of the Mozza restaurant group), and Jasper White (owner and executive chef of Jasper White’s Summer Shack restaurants in Massachusetts and Connecticut).