When Authority Sneaks Up On You

Celebrity chefs are a dime a dozen now, but when Julia Child first appeared on American television, it was a brand-spanking new concept.

Julia didn’t pursue celebrity—and you could argue she didn’t really pursue authority either.

It snuck up on her.

It started as a passion. Her first meal after landing in France (“what’s a shallot?”) was a revelation, the kind where you divide everything into the before and the afterwards.

She immediately enrolled in le Cordon Bleu whose master teachers didn’t think an American housewife belonged in their classes in 1949. She survived—and eventually thrived—by using single-minded tunnel vision to learn the rules of la cuisine française.

She practiced constantly—first for her friends and family in Paris and later for American home cooks. As she perfected one item like say, puff pastry, then and only then would she go on to the next.

When she tackled her first cookbook, she spent months deciding on the best way to roast a chicken, cooking multiples every day.

She tanked several recipes after more months of testing and research convinced her that American home cooks would not be able to source the right ingredients to replicate them successfully.

It had to be right.

Her path to authority looks a lot like following your passion.

The kind of throat-grasping intensity where you just aren’t happy not exploring deeper, sharing more widely, digging into the essence of your craft.

But passion alone isn’t enough—it never is.

Successful authority requires the hard work of dedicating yourself to a greater vision (ignoring the naysayers) and jumping over the inevitable obstacles along the way.

Julia Child’s mission—which started over Chablis, oysters and sole meunière—continued with the same intensity for the rest of her life and beyond (like the Julia Child award still coveted more than 15 years after her death).

If you’d like to follow the twists and turns of her journey, I dare you not to be charmed by her “My Life In France”.

Like Julia Child’s experience, the path to authority is almost never a straight line—sometimes it just may sneak up on you.

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