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Restaurants and Fans Around the World Celebrate Julia Child's 85th Birthday

by Sally Bernstein

CHICAGO, IL -- On August 15, 1997, teacher and culinarian extraordinaire Julia Child celebrated her 85th birthday with an unprecedented series of dinners held around the world by fans, food professionals and restaurants in a "Tribute to Julia."

The International Association for Culinary Professionals (IACP) announced the tribute as a campaign to honor Julia and invest in the future of the culinary profession by planning and sponsoring fund-raising dinner events to mark her birthday.

"Whether they dine at five-star restaurants or attend home dinner parties, indulge in foie gras or feast on pizza, we hope thousands of people celebrated Julia's birthday just as she would -- enjoying good food and good company," said Toni Allegra, IACP president. "We also hope to raise a minimum of $200,000 for the Julia Child Endowment Fund."

More than 200 restaurants participated, including: Star Canyon (Dallas, Texas), Commander's Palace (New Orleans, Louisiana), American Restaurant (Kansas City, Missouri), The Peabody Hotel (Memphis, Georgia), and Trellis Restaurant (Williamsburg, Virginia).

Restaurants celebrated with prix-fixe menus, special selections or their regular menu, and donated a portion of the evening's gross revenue to the IACP Foundation/Julia Child Endowment Fund. IACP provided promotional materials such as table toppers, menu jackets and check cards to participating restaurants, as well as widespread publicity.

Fans also hosted a tribute dinner in their homes with celebrations from a formal dinner to a casual pizza night or barbecue. Each guest was asked to make a minimum contribution of $25 to the Fund. Hosts obtained preprinted invitations, envelopes and other promotional materials from IACP.

The Endowment Fund, created specifically for the "Tribute to Julia" campaign, will create culinary scholarships for those desiring to pursue a culinary degree, and continue the tradition of excellence and creativity Julia brings to culinary arts, Allegra said.

Although the cost of a culinary education is high, an average of $24,000, Allegra said opportunities available and the popularity of the culinary field is growing rapidly. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that within the next 10 years, restaurants and hotels will need an additional 500,000 chefs, cooks and other kitchen workers, which is an increase of 16 percent over current demands.

"Thanks largely to Julia Child's inspiration, chefs and others in our field have become stars," Allegra said. "Our profession owes her a lot, so as a tribute to her, we want to enable others to follow in her footsteps."

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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