The spirit of Julia Child hung over a reunion of old friends last night as they celebrated what would have been her 100th birthday.
The “Good Time” dinner, named after Child’s adage “Above all, have a good time,” was hosted by Ris Lacoste at her eponymous restaurant Ris in the West End of Washington.
Wearing her white kitchen costume, the chef greeted guests such as America Online Inc. co-founder Jim Kimsey and TransDS LLC Chairman Eric Spivey.
Both Spivey and Lacoste met Child in the early 1980s. Lacoste said she honed her beef Wellington and quiche recipes from Child’s instruction, and added meatloaf to the Ris menu at her insistence.
Spivey, who shares Child’s birthday, planned a dinner for her and friends on Aug. 15, 2004. Guests were en route to his home in California for the celebration when she died on Aug. 13.
“We went ahead with it,” he said. “It was what she would have wanted.”
Spivey is a trustee of the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, which promotes her legacy. Susan Davidson, the foundation’s executive director, said everyone in the organization knew Child personally.
Last night, Lacoste replicated her menu for Child’s 90th birthday dinner, held at 1789 in Georgetown.
The main courses were lobster, sea scallops and soft-shell crab cooked in carrot saffron Pernod broth, and lamb with Child’s mustard crust. Veggies included butter greens with Champagne vinaigrette and a sampling of local cheeses.
French and American wines gave a nod to Child’s transatlantic friendships. Fleurs-de-lis decorated the menus to honor her love of Gallic culture.
Guests finished with peach cobbler and honey almond ice cream.
Child’s relatives in attendance included her niece Phila Cousins, and her great-nephew Alex Prud’homme, who co-wrote her posthumous memoir “My Life in France.”
“All I can say is bon appetit,” Prud’homme said.
His parents, Hector Prud’homme, a former Wall Street banker, and Erica Prud’homme, a painter, came from New York for the occasion.
Also from New York was Child’s godson Henry Breed, a United Nations political adviser. He said his favorite memory was Child teaching him to make vinaigrette “when I was about eight or nine.”
Tickets were $250, of which $150 benefited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s new exhibition “Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000,” which will feature Julia Child’s kitchen. Her cookbooks, breakfast table, and mixer are exactly as she left them in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Everything in the kitchen is original, except for the floors.
The exhibition opens in November, but the Julia Child section, which also has Child’s pot and pans and Legion of Honor medal, opened yesterday in honor of her centennial. It will close on Sept. 3.
In the early afternoon yesterday, about 3,000 people gathered at the museum for a posthumous birthday bash, complete with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra leading a “Happy Birthday to You” sing along. Tourists and sweaty kids tore into Child’s mocha chocolate chip cookies. The children, from the Smithsonian Summer Camp, wore large chef hats.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Jason Harper on cars and Lance Esplund on art.