Julia Child, who turned the art of French cooking into prime-time television entertainment and brought cassoulet to a casserole culture in the two volumes of her monumental “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” died Friday at her home in Santa Barbara, two days before her 92nd birthday.
The cause was complications of kidney failure, said a niece, Philadelphia Cousins.
Child was a towering figure on the culinary front for more than 40 years. Most Americans knew her as the imperturbable host of the long-running PBS television series “The French Chef.” She was a tall, exuberant woman who could make lobster bisque look as easy as toast. But she was also respected by food professionals for the clarity and rigor with which she translated French cuisine for an American audience, most impressively in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” a work that Craig Claiborne, in The New York Times, said “may be the finest volume on French cooking ever published in English.”
Child was not the first dedicated cook to turn cooking into a spectator sport — James Beard preceded her on television in 1945, Dione Lucas in 1948 — but she brought a fresh, breezy approach to daunting material, expressed in her up-the-scales signature signoff, “Bon appetit!”0