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Home > Blogs > Leslie Kossoff > Innovation: Why Julia Child and Steve Jobs are the Same Person

Innovation: Why Julia Child and Steve Jobs are the Same Person

Why Julia Child and Steve Jobs are the Same Person Leslie Kossoff

They don't look alike. They weren't in the same industry. One began her career by learning all there was to know in France and bringing it to America then the world. The other started his vision in America and grew a world.

They're Julia Child and Steve Jobs - and as different as they are and as different as their experiences, they are to all intents and purposes the same person.

Why? Because in both their cases, they didn't invent anything. They created industries.

Over the holidays for some unknown reason, I decided to watch the first episode of Julia Child's "The French Chef" cooking show. It was a joy and an eye-opener.

I remember those programs in their grainy black and white from when my mother watched - religiously - when, as children we weren't allowed to speak. She was as good as communing with Julia Child and, happily, I now understand, as a result her cooking seriously improved.

But what really made me interested in Julia Child years before was her autobiography, My Life in France. (This is the book which, in combination with the charming Julie and Julia, was the basis of the movie of the latter's name...which wasn't as good as either book.)

Her love of eating is what brought her to cooking - and once she decided that that was what she wanted to learn and be and do she was unstoppable. She took Escoffier's foundation as learned at Le Cordon Bleu while living in Paris and, with her vision, turned it into an industry from which chefs - and manufacturers - today are still and will always benefit.

Julia Child was a force of nature. This was a woman who took no prisoners, fought her side without pause or hesitation and simply wouldn't take 'no' for an answer.

It didn't matter who said the 'no' - from instructors to head chefs to publishers to producers. Her answer was always a far more resounding 'yes I will - just watch me.' More important, when she achieved her goals, she brought others along in her success.

Sound familiar? Starting to sound a bit like the Steve Jobs we've all come to know - particularly since the Isaacson biography was published?

There's more.

Let's go back to that first television episode. Julia Child made Boeuf Bourgignon - which, let's face it, in 1960s America was a far cry from the "beef stew" to which she compared it. But, it was as she was making it that she created the industry we all now take for granted.

From her comment about liking to use a wooden spatula to noting how easy it is with the advent of electric clothes dryers to be able to correctly dry your freshly washed mushrooms in a clean towel before preparing them for sauté, she had women across America going out to their shops looking for the new tools, equipment, paraphernalia and major appliances they needed as they started on their way to becoming French Chefs.

Her cookbook laid the groundwork for all the chefs' cookbooks since. And the television shows. As well as the chef-branded cookware, tools, ingredients, frozen food lines and restaurants.

She built an industry. But she built it on what she loved, her aesthetic and her indomitable will to succeed - herself - and to give others the ability to succeed and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Again, sound familiar?

Since Steve Jobs' death, we've read and heard everything from the paeans of praise for his global vision and achievements to those, like Malcolm Gladwell, who have attempted to put him into a more 'realistic context' to those who bad-mouth him and call him a bully.

No matter what is said, though, his achievement was building an industry that far exceeded where it was and created opportunities for the generations of entrepreneurs and audiences who come after.

Just like Julia Child - only Julia Child's world tastes better.

Tags: innovation , Julia Child , Steve Jobs , Steve Jobs dies , technology , USA
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