You’re Going to Need a Bigger Pot
Talk About Food
I knew I would like Julie and Julia, the movie about blog author Julie Powell and adored chef Julia Child, because: a) it was about food, b) it was a glorious example of following your passion no matter how late you get started, c) it was about food…oh, I mentioned that already, and d) I got to see the movie with my friend since first grade, Luisa, who is herself an amazing cook, though she’d shy away from that title. As we watched Julia on screen, I made mental notes of the ingredients that when combined, resulted in Julia’s tremendous success and what you could call a delectable life.
Sometimes a glimpse is all you have to go on. In her 30’s and looking for what might be “her thing”, Julia Child experimented. Appreciating a finely prepared meal spurred her interest in learning to cook and immersing herself in French culture, which eventually fueled her desire to teach others. While she never could have imagined the role that awaited, Julia opened the door to her future simply by deciding to pursue an interest.
Put the time in and learn. Julia was 37 when she entered Paris’ prestigious Cordon Bleu cooking school. Undeterred by the male-dominated and competitive atmosphere, Julia found her inner chef.
Laugh at yourself — often! Julia’s approach to cooking was scientific and diligent —“fearless” as she described it— combined with a playfulness which became the hallmark of her brand. “Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?”
Say yes to opportunity. When invited by two French women to collaborate on a cookbook for American readers, Julia said yes without hesitation. Despite delays and numerous re-writes, it proved to be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Draw upon your supports. Julia’s friends and husband, Paul Child, saw the unique essence that was Julia. When faced with a publisher’s rejection, Julia wonders whether the last eight years of her life had been “just something to do”. Paul reminds her, “Your book is going to change the world.”
Keep moving the dream forward and trust where life is leading you. Julia didn’t let geographic moves, interruptions in her husband’s career, or rejections from publishing houses stop her. This is one of the biggest lessons from her story — that the pursuit of a dream is actually an interplay with life itself. She adjusted her pace when necessary but never dropped the dream.
Get Your Pot Ready!
When Julia Child stepped foot into Le Cordon Bleu, she could not foresee the 11 books and 8 TV series that she would later contribute to the world, the American Institute of Wine and Food that she would found, or that her kitchen would eventually be transported to the Smithsonian.
You may be cooking up something bigger than you can imagine, too, so get the big pot out, just in case. Imagine yourself older (5, 10, 25 years) and having accomplished some huge, exaggerated version of your dream. I know…it’s hard to picture something that doesn’t feel in the realm of possibility…just do it anyway. What advice does the TV chef version of yourself have to offer you now? If you did have that dream job, what is the personal quality that would have propelled you there? If you did make a success of your business venture, what would have happened inside you to make that possible? What outlandish action would you have dared to take?
Be willing to experiment. Be fearless in the kitchen of your imagination. Pick up the lamb when you drop it! Laugh at yourself, do more of what delights you, and share it with people.
“Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.”
—Julia Child (1912-2004)
Watch Julia in Action:
The French Chef (1964): Elegance with Eggs “The egg can be your best friend if you just give it the right break.”
The French Chef (1972): Cheese Soufflé “The important thing is how to time it so neither one of you collapses.”
Read About Julia:
Smithsonian Puts Julia Child’s Kitchen on Display
Julia Child: Still cookin' after all these years
More About the Movie, Julie & Julia:
Meryl Streep’s Julia Child Inspiration
Newsweek Article: “Stop Hating Julie Powell, Please”
Julie Powell’s Blog