North Branch Library meets Julia Child

Sep 25, 2023

Legendary chef, author and television personality Julia Child returned for a bonus episode of “The French Chef” on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 23. 

But instead of broadcasting from GBH, this episode came directly to Dartmouth’s North Branch Public Library. And instead of Julia Child, the show featured performer Lynne Moulton in character as the late great chef. 

The Friends of the Dartmouth Libraries invited Moulton and her co-star Fran Baron for a special free show in the Library’s community room. 

Moulton stayed in character as Child for nearly the entirety of the hour-long performance, complete with her iconic hairstyle, her unusual accent and mannerisms, and her penchant for drinking while cooking (Moulton poured herself glasses of Port for historical accuracy). 

The show first began with an introduction to the chef’s upbringing and rise to fame. Child has a strong Massachusetts connection: she not only went to Smith College after growing up in California, but later lived in Cambridge while hosting her show from GBH (then WGBH), Boston’s PBS affiliate. 

Child is often credited for bringing French cooking to a wide American audience, and the show explained how she became familiar with the country’s cuisine while studying at the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. Shortly thereafter, she published her classic “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Sous chef Baron brought her personal, marked-up copy of the book for the show. 

One of the most exciting and unexpected parts of the show came not during the performance itself, but in the question-and-answer period afterwards, when Moulton asked if anyone had a personal experience with Child: UMass Dartmouth professor Mel Yoken said he not only met Julia Child, but was a close personal friend of hers for years. Yoken then showed the crowd a newspaper clipping of him and Child together. 

Moreover, Moulton realized that she had spoken with Yoken many years ago about Julia Child. 

Yoken said he thought Moulton’s performance was “wonderful.”

Anne Heller from the Friends of the Dartmouth Libraries said the group booked the show because they wanted some “variety” on the fall schedule and thought the show would be a “memorable way to start the new year.”