On This Day in 1963, Julia Child Debuted 'The French Chef'

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Julia Child started her public TV show The French Chef on February 11, 1963. In her first black-and-white episode, she made Boeuf Bourguignon, spending a half hour in the kitchen, recording the show live. Child's show came to define the TV cooking show genre, though many of us have never actually seen her original series. (Though you may have seen her kitchen at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History!)

Here's Child's first episode, part of a massive playlist of her early work:

One nerdy note about this first episode is that it was recorded on kinescope. This process meant that live TV cameras were pointed at Child, switched live (cutting in to closeups of her hands and such), all while a film camera was pointed at a TV monitor in order to record the program. That film was later used for broadcast. In the very first episode, the lighting is a bit dim, sometimes making it hard to see details. As those early episodes proceed, you can watch the production crew adding lighting, overhead cameras, and eventually recording the show to tape.

For more on Child, enjoy: 15 Delicious Facts About Julia Child; What Julia Child’s Thanksgiving Was Like; and Julia Child's Recipe for Shark Repellent.

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February 11, 2017 - 4:00am
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