Santa Barbara, CA - The culinary world was rocked yesterday by the disclosure of details of Julia Child's will. Most disturbing to many is the requirement that her body be the secret ingredient in an episode of the Iron Chef, a popular cooking program on the Food Network, and that it be served as the main course at a memorial banquet.
Chefs and restaurateurs from around the world reacted with a mix of admiration and horror upon hearing the strange final request of one of the world's greatest chefs. Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef, was among those reached for comment. "I was stunned when I learned of the will," explained Jamie, "but I don't know if I am going to be able to meet the requirements of the will. I'm game to try most things, but I have to draw the line somewhere."
This appeared to be the reaction from many chefs. Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain (executive chef at Les Halles in New York), Jacques Torres (of Le Cirque 2000) and Jacques Pepin (Ms. Child's co-host on PBS) all expressed reservations at the idea of devouring their friend and mentor. "My relationship with Julia was exceptionally close," said Pepin, "I could not eat a meal that included her though. The thought is unspeakable."
Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai was of a different mind. "When I was a boy, and just beginning to fall in love with French cuisine, Chef Child was my inspiration," said Sakai, "Although I never had the opportunity to cook with her in life, it would be an honor to cook with her in death."
The producers of the Iron Chef are equally excited about having Ms. Child appear on the program. Larry Thompson, the producer of the Iron Chef America was exuberant when he learned of Ms. Childs' request. "Julia Child is synonymous with gastronomical excitement - as is the Iron Chef," said Thompson, "To bring the two together, even in this way, will be a wonderful thing for the chefs and viewers alike."
Thompson said that given the extraordinary nature of the request, that the chefs would be informed of the secret ingredient before the show was taped so they could plan accordingly. "The mortal remains of Julia Child aren't like beef or octopus," explained Thompson, "this is an ingredient that needs to be treated with great respect."
Paul Bocuse, one of the greatest living French chefs voiced shock, but not for the same reasons as many of the other chefs. "I have no problem with cooking human flesh," said Bocuse, "but this program, the Iron Chef, it is not acceptable. It is not cooking - it is entertainment; but I suppose it is fitting for a chef of Julia's questionable caliber."
A pioneer in popularizing French cuisine during her lifetime, Ms. Child appears to hope to popularize cannibalism in death. "The world has waited too long for someone to recognize the potential of human cookery," she wrote in her will, "I am hoping that my example will be the first step in a new golden age in the enjoyment of the flesh."