Last night Nora Ephron’s much-anticipated film, Julie & Julia, premiered at the Ziegfeld Theatre in midtown Manhattan. Written and directed by Ephron, the movie stars Meryl Streep as the legendary chef, Julia Child, and Amy Adams as Julie Powell, an aspiring writer who rose to fame by chronicling her attempt to cook all the recipes in Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The film, which weaves together the separate lives of the two women, also co-stars Stanley Tucci as Child’s husband and Chris Messina as Powell’s. But the real star of the film, one could argue, was the food.
That showed on the red carpet, where figures from the culinary world mixed with Hollywood actors. Nina Zagat, co-founder of the famous Zagat restaurant guides and someone who knew Child personally, told MORE, "I think [Child] had a tremendous role, a very constructive role, in getting people to not be fearful about cooking French foods."
Less familiar with Child’s work was actress Patricia Clarkson. "I know that she cooks and I don’t," she told MORE, laughing, when asked about her knowledge of the chef. But Clarkson has the same respect for a well-cooked meal as the rest of us. "I’m from New Orleans, so I grew up eating amazing Creole food," she said. "My mother was a great Creole cook, my grandmother was a great Creole cook, my great great grandmother was a great Creole cook."
At the afterparty at the nearby Metropolitan Club, the Stanford White building with fresco ceilings and winding staircases that resembles a mini-Versailles, tables were loaded with food inspired by the film. Juicy slices of filet mignon, roasted chicken, exotic cheeses, fruits, tarte tartine with buttermilk ice cream, braised boeuf bourguignon and coconut-topped cupcakes were some of the treats. Next to a giant ice sculpture of the Eiffel Tower were giant shrimps, clams and oysters.
Everyone from the film was there, plus stars like Steve Buscemi, Blythe Danner and Tovah Feldshuh, and writers like Gay Talese, Zadie Smith and the author of the Julie/Julia Project, Julie Powell. Cooks Sarah Lee, Rachel Ray and Drew Nieporent checked out the food, although we didn’t see them eat.
We saw Anthony Bourdain, the chef and globe-trotting star of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations and asked him how Julia Child inspired him. "I grew up with Julia Child on my refrigerator and on the TV," he said. "I don’t know if she would be flattered by this statement but I think that there’s a direct line from what she did to me making a living. She made it all happen," he said. "The whole celebrity chef phenomenon, instead of [being] debauched, degraded, hopeless societal rejects, we’ve all got TV shows. We owe a debt to Julia."