Julie Powell, the Chef and Author Who Inspired ‘Julie & Julia,’ Dies at 49

Powell is famous for making all 524 of Julia Child's recipes in 365 days.

Julie Powell is with her cooking idol, Julia Child. The two are probably whipping up Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq Au Vin while laughing over their kitchen faux pas. Powell, who shot to fame as Child’s New York City prodigy, died on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Eric Powell confirmed his wife’s death to the New York Times, citing cardiac arrest as the cause. She was 49 years old.

Powell is most notably known for her attempt to make all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 in just 365 days. Her 2002 cooking trial took place in her tiny apartment in Astoria, Queens, following the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. At the time, Powell was nearing her thirties and in a career rut.

Salon.com tapped Powell to write about her experience and The Julie/Julia Project was born. Powell became an overnight sensation and the blog turned into a published book in 2005.

It went on to inspire 2009’s Julie & Julia. The Nora Ephron-directed film starred Meryl Streep as Child and Amy Adams as Powell.

“She truly made her own lane,” Salon senior writer Mary Elizabeth Williams, who previously worked with Powell, told CNN. “We were lucky enough to be the conduit.”

It all started as a French cuisine challenge and an ode to her favorite chef; but even as Powell became a recognizable figure, her appreciation and awe of Child never wavered.

“Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It’s not what I thought it was,” Powell wrote, per CNN. “I thought it was all about — I don’t know, confidence or will or luck. Those are all some good things to have, no question. But there’s something else, something that these things grow out of. It’s joy.”

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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