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FOOD FINDS: Award named for Julia Child a tribute to how she revolutionized American cooking

03/24/2015 05:41 EDT | Updated 05/24/2015 05:59 EDT
More than a decade after Julia Child's death, the foundation she created finally is launching a culinary award named in her honour.

The annual award pays tribute to one of the United States' most influential cooks. With a writing and television career that spanned decades, Child is credited with revolutionizing Americans' notion of fine food, starting with her now iconic 1961 cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." She taught generations of Americans to enjoy food and embrace their mistakes in the kitchen.

But the group was in no rush to create an award, said Todd Shulkin, executive director of The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. They wanted to take the time needed to create something unique from other culinary awards. Food writers, chefs and television personalities, for example, already are honoured by annual awards given in tribute to Child's friend, James Beard.

The Julia Child Award, which will be named annually, will be presented to someone who has improved how Americans think about food and cooking. The nominees and winner will be selected by a jury appointed by the foundation, with the winner receiving a $50,000 grant to give to a food-related non-profit.

"There's a list of about half a dozen characteristics they are looking for. It's looking at what Julia represented and why she was so successful, that combination of education and entertainment, passion and commitment to the subject," Shulkin said. "We're looking at trying to shine a spotlight on people who are prodding change, challenging what Americans are eating and drinking and encouraging them to cook for themselves."

The first winner will be announced in August and the award will be presented in October at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

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J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at jhirsch@ap.org

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