The culinary world collectively held its breath when the former home of Julia Child — charming French food innovator and one of the first true celebrity chefs — was put up for sale last November. But there’s no need to fear the bulldozer. The late, great Julia Child’s home in Provence, France, was just purchased by businesswoman and yoga connoisseur, Makenna Johnston, who plans to transform the house into a culinary retreat and yoga center.
The retreat center, when it opens in May, will be named La Peetch, a nod to the original name of the property, La Pitchoune, which loosely translates to “little one,” a form of endearment in French. The center will start taking reservations in May, but cooking classes won’t begin until 2017. At that point, Johnston and her wife Yvonne (who will also serve as La Peetch’s head chef), will begin hosting weeklong “Courageous Cooking” sessions in April-June and September-November the year after Yvonne graduates from the International Culinary Center, according to Boston Magazine.
“The focus is on cooking French food, for sure, and really, on the Julia Child way of cooking: The no-holds barred, ‘Look at that omelet!’ style of cooking,” Johnston told Boston Magazine. “Our goal is to really take out some of the anxiety that comes with big messes, especially for new-ish cooks.”
Although the Johnstons will be breathing life into the former home of Julia Child, the property has not been vacant over the past decade. In the 1990s, shortly before Child’s death, the house was turned into a cooking school and former owner Kathie Alex even kept the kitchen intact, complete with extra-tall cabinets to compensate for Child’s statuesque height.
Neither of the women consider themselves a culinary expert, but the couple catered their own wedding with a little help from guests, so a culinary retreat should not be far out of their reach.