France Is A Feast Exhibit Featuring Julia Child Now Open In Napa

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Julia Child
Julia Child

Photography by Paul Child © The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Although she passed away 13 years ago, Julia Child—the legendary cooking instructor and first television food personality to achieve celebrity status—still has a strong presence in the culinary industry today. This is apparent in Napa where a new exhibit at the Napa Valley Museum, Yountville gives fans a fresh look at Child’s life. France is a Feast is the photographic journey of Paul and Julia Child. The exhibit was inspired by the book of the same name by Alex Prud’homme, Child’s grand nephew, and Katie Pratt. “It’s a photographic journey of Julia and Paul Child covering the period from 1948-1954,” Pratt told Haute Living over the phone last week. “As the book was coming to completion and with a publish date, I felt that it would be fantastic to have a physical extension of the book that people could experience, and started planning the exhibit last year based on this vision. The Napa Museum, very wonderfully for me and for everyone, was able to take on the inaugural phase, first step of the exhibit.”

Pages in the book
Pages in the book

The plan is to take the exhibit on tour to other museums after its run in Yountville, which ends Sunday, February 18, 2018. “It’s part of an overall program that we are launching to incubate and create new exhibits here that will then tour to other places,” Laura Rafaty, the museum’s executive director, explained in the same telephone conversation. “We don’t have the touring schedule set for this exhibit yet, but we believe it’ll probably go to 10 other places over the next couple of years and we know there’ll be at least a couple of east coast spots, but that’s still under development.”

A more casual view of Child
A more casual view of Child

Photography by Paul Child © The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Pratt curated the selection of images that are featured in the exhibit whittling down the 200 that are in the book to just 60 that are framed and on display in Yountville. There are also 12 oversized panels that cover larger areas of the wall. “It’s more of an experience where you walk through different parts of Julia and Paul’s life,” Pratt says “Their Paris years, there’s some [images] focusing on Paul’s studio, and Julia’s kitchen, and more personal photographs from Julia and Paul’s time together.” Sentimental artifacts from the couple are interspersed throughout the exhibit. Child fans can view Valentine’s Day cards and romantic poems that Paul wrote for Julia.

This image is the cover of the book
This image is the cover of the book

Photography by Paul Child  © The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Another thing that makes the exhibit unique is the audio tour. Child’s friend and fellow chef, Jacques Pepin, and local luminaries, Thomas Keller and Cindy Pawlcyn, voice the tour. “Susie Heller, who was the producer of the Julia and Jacques television show, and Alex Prud’homme, and then the voice of Julia herself,” Rafaty says are also heard on the tour. “Along with music and sound effects, you really get, between the large blowup photographs, the objects assembled, and then this audio, you really get a complete, immersive experience into the lives of these two people.”

Visit the Napa Valley Museum, Yountville the next time you’re in wine country. Rafaty recommends allowing 45 minute to an hour of time to fully enjoy the exhibit.

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