by Ian McNulty
The late Julia Child would have turned 100 next week, and to celebrate the anniversary Bayona and Emeril Lagasse's restaurants are serving special menus of dishes chosen from her repertoire and paying tribute to her spirit.
The Julia Child menu has been a summer tradition at Bayona since 2009, when the restaurant’s co-owner Regina Keever was inspired by the then-new Hollywood flick “Julie and Julia.”
Child, of course was coauthor of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” — which still sells briskly more than 60 years after its first publication — and host of the famous PBS series “The French Chef.” She helped introduce French cooking and culinary culture to modern American audiences. She made a distinct impact on Bayona chef Susan Spicer too.
“She’s been a hero of mine,” Spicer says. “She dined here at Bayona a few times, and it turns out she was one of those icons who, when you finally get to meet them, are even greater in real life than you thought they could be. She was razor sharp and also a lot of fun and just made you feel like you were the most interesting person in the room and the center of her attention.”
During these dinners, of course, it’s the culinary spirit of Julia Child that will be the center of attention. Spicer’s menu is copied below. Dinner costs $48 and is served nightly Aug. 13-18.
In another step of preparation, Spicer has been poring over Child’s books, looking for inspiration and pulling quotes to include on the special menus.
This being New Orleans, don’t be surprised if some of the people partaking in the Julia Child menu arrive in outfits chosen to pay tribute to the late chef. Last year, for instance, one patron was costumed in Child-esque details from heels to tea towel.
Meanwhile, Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants are participating in their own Julia Child menu week, which is happening now through Aug. 15. Chefs at each of Lagasse’s three local restaurants — Emeril’s, NOLA and Emeril’s Delmonico — have created their own menus using Child’s recipes, with dishes including Dijon-basted roast rack of lamb, scallops gratinee in wine garlic and herbs, coq au vin and crepe Suzette. You can see those menus at the links above.
For those who want to mark Child’s actual centennial, her birthday is Aug. 15.
Bayona’s Julia Child Menu
Onion, Anchovy and Escargot Tart
Confit Duck Gizzard Salad with Duck Egg
Chilled Shellfish Consommé with Crab, Tomato and Lemon Basil
Summer Pot au Feu of Duck with Flageolets and Vegetables
Salmon-stuffed Flounder with Champagne Truffle Beurre Blanc