Name: Julia Child
Occupation: French chef, senior civilian intelligence officer
Location: Washington, D.C., and other locations
As seen in: the television shows The French Chef, Baking with Julia, Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home, and as an adapted character played by Meryl Streep in the movie Julie and Julia
Though Julia Child became famous as a flamboyant French chef and TV personality who was trained at Le Cordon Bleu, few people know that the path Julia took to discover her passion for French cuisine took many dips and turns through U.S. Intelligence agencies.
Julia Child was born in Pasadena, CA in 1912. She was incredibly tall, standing at nearly 6’3. Child felt called to join the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and the U.S. Navy’s WAVES program when World War II broke out, but was rejected because of her height. Instead, she joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Washington, D.C., and worked as a research assistant in the Emergency Rescue Equipment Section of the organization. While there, she invented a shark repellant for use underwater explosives, which she was told were being set off by sharks too often to be effective. The experimental shark repellant is still in use today, and was said to be Child’s first foray into experimental ‚Äúcooking.‚Äù
In 1944, Child was placed in Kandy, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where she processed a huge number of classified documents destined for the U.S’s clandestine military stations in Asia. She was later moved to Kunming, China, where she met Paul Cushing Child, the man who would become her husband.
Soon after their marriage in 1946, Paul joined the US Foreign Service, and two years later the couple moved to France, where Child discovered her love of French cuisine and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu. Ten years later she would write the cookbook that launched her career, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Though Child was not technically on active assignment as a spy, she was considered a senior civilain intelligence officer, and handled an extraordinary number of classified documents, earning an Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service before the end of her career at the OSS. An unconventional woman in dozens of beautiful ways, Julia Child should be remembered and lauded for her ability to take on the world, despite the many rejections she faced along the way.
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