Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Cover of Volume 1, original 1961 edition
Author Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, Julia Child
Illustrator Sidonie Coryn
Cover artist Paul Kidby
Country United States/France
Language English
Subject Culinary Arts
Genre non-fiction
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date
1961 (vol. 1), 1970 (vol. 2)
Media type book
Pages 726
ISBN 0-375-41340-5 (40th anniversary edition)
OCLC 429389109
LC Class TX719 .C454 2009
Followed by The French Chef Cookbook, Simca's Cuisine

Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a two-volume French cookbook written by Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, both of France, and Julia Child of the United States.[1] The book was written for the American market and published by Knopf in 1961 (Volume 1) and 1970 (Volume 2).


The book was the result of a collaboration among Beck, Bertholle, Child (listed alphabetically), illustrator Sidonie Coryn, and Paul Cushing Child (Child's husband), and was the impetus for Child's long and successful career as a pioneering television chef. Julia Child's goal was to adapt classic French cuisine for mainstream Americans. The collaboration of this cookbook proved groundbreaking and has since become a standard guide for the culinary community.[2] Mastering Volume 1 (ISBN 0-375-41340-5) was originally published in 1961 after some early difficulties (which are recounted in great detail in Julia Child's memoirs My Life in France as well as Child's introduction to the 2003 edition). Volume 1 was a broad survey of French flavors and techniques, and grew out of the work the three women had done for their Paris cooking school, "L'École des trois gourmandes" (whose logo Child wore as a badge throughout the production of her first TV series, The French Chef). Mastering Volume 2 (ISBN 0-394-40152-2), released in 1970, this time a collaboration between Julia Child and Simone Beck but not Louisette Bertholle with whom the professional relationship had ended, expanded on certain topics of interest that had not been covered as completely as the three had planned to in the first volume (particularly baking and charcuterie). Taken together, the two volumes are considered one of the most influential works in American cookbook history. Child has long been accorded near-universal respect in the cooking world, in part due to the influence of these books.

Beck had wanted to create a volume 3, but Child, with her TV career doing well, was less interested; they severed their writing partnership and Beck's work for volume 3 became her first published book in English, Simca's Cuisine.


Mastering the Art of French Cooking… doesn't mean it has to be fancy cooking, although it can be as elaborate as you wish. — Julia Child [3]

Volume 1 covers the basics of French cooking, striking as much of a balance between the complexities of haute cuisine and the practicalities of the American home cook. Traditional favorites such as beef bourguignon, bouillabaisse, and cassoulet are featured, as are extensive instructions on how to prepare vegetables in a manner more appetizing than that of the 1960s American kitchen. This volume has been through many printings and has been reissued twice with revisions: first in 1983 with updates for changes in kitchen practice (especially the food processor), and then in 2003 as a 40th anniversary edition with the history of the book in the introduction. The cookbook includes 524 recipes.[4]

Some classic French baking is also included, but baking received a more thorough treatment in Volume 2, published in 1970 after Bertholle had gone on to other projects. Also covered is breadmaking, which Child and Beck studied under Professor Raymond Calvel at the time one of France's recognized experts on bread and charcuterie. Coryn's illustrations in the second volume were a result of Paul Child's photography.

Cultural references

In 2002, writer Julie Powell began the Julie/Julia Project, a popular blog in which she recorded her ultimately successful attempt to cook all the recipes in the book in the space of an entire year. This challenge and that of Child's creation of the book in the early years of her career are dramatized in the 2009 film, Julie & Julia, with Amy Adams as Julie Powell and Meryl Streep as Julia Child. The success of this film, combined with a tied-in reissue of the 40th Anniversary edition, caused it to once again become a bestseller in the United States, 49 years after its initial release.[5] Upon hearing about Powell's attempt, Child was reported to have been unimpressed, viewing her attempt to be a stunt, and that Powell wasn't serious about doing it.

Julia Child's publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, has created a Facebook page dedicated to Julia Child.[6]

In honor of Child's 100th birthday, bloggers from across the web are celebrating by highlighting a recipe from Child's cookbook.[7]

Julia Child's original kitchen can be visited at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.[8] After leaving her Massachusetts home in 2001 to return to California, Julia Child gave her kitchen to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.[9]

Editions and printings

First edition (published August, 1961)

First Fortieth Anniversary Hardcover edition, October 16, 2001 (a.k.a. Fourth edition)

First Fortieth Anniversary Paperback edition, October 2004

First eBook edition, October 2011

The original edition of this book has the title ("MASTERING the ART of FRENCH COOKING") and the logo "L'École des trois gourmandes" printed in red. A Book Club edition of this book has the title and the stamp printed in black and white.

See also


  1. J.C. Maçek III (2012-08-13). "Bless This Mess: Sweeping the Kitchen with Julia Child". PopMatters.
  2. "Julia Child's Cookbooks". Julia Child can be thanked for introducing French cuisine to America - the land of hot dogs and apple pie - during the 1960s.
  3. Child, Julia, "Introduction to the Anniversary edition", Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 1 (40th anniversary ed.), p. xiv
  4. "Book page for Mastering the Art of French Cooking",, retrieved 2013-01-25
  5. Clifford, Stephanie (23 August 2009). "After 48 Years, Julia Child Has a Big Best Seller, Butter and All". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  6. "Julia Child Facebook page". Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  7. "The Julia Child Centennial Celebration: Rolled Omelette". Retrieved 30 June 2012.
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