Julie Powell, a bestselling author whose efforts to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking inspired the 2009 film Julie & Julia, died on Oct. 26, 2022, per The New York Times. Her husband, Eric Powell, confirmed that she died due to cardiac arrest at their home in New York. She was 49.
“We mourn her loss with her husband Eric and her family,” Judy Clain, the editor-in-chief of Little, Brown and Co., — the company that gave Julie her first book deal — said in a statement to NBC News. “We are sending our deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Julie, whether personally or through the deep connections she forged with readers of her memoirs. She was a brilliant writer and a daring, original person and she will not be forgotten.”
Julie blogged about her experience recreating Julia’s recipes on Salon in her own section called the “Julie/Julia Project”. She originally started the blog as a way to add some joy to her life as she grew tired of her mundane temp job in New York City, but it quickly grew into so much more. The blog grew a loyal viewership, and Julie had enough of a platform to publish her first book, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, in 2005. Read on to learn more about the writer and amateur chef here.
Julie Powell Published A Second Book In 2009
Following the success of her first book, Julie landed a deal for a follow-up. Titled, Cleaving: a Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, the 2009 memoir details how she left town after her marriage was “challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair” and “buries herself in the details of food”, per its Amazon description. While her writing received critical praise, it did not sell as well as her debut book.
It’s a bit ironic that Julie ended up being a non-fiction writer, as she graduated from Amherst College in 1995 with bachelor’s degrees in theater and fiction writing, according to Variety.
Julie Had No Formal Culinary Training
Julie taught herself how to cook and received no formal training. “I’d written about all of it, my mistakes and my minor triumphs,” she wrote in Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, per Salon. “People — a couple of friends, a couple of strangers, even my aunt Sukie from Waxahachie — had written in to the blog to root me on.”
Recalling how impressive Julie and her success were, Salon senior writer Mary Elizabeth Williams raved, “She truly made her own lane.”
Julia Childs Taught Julie Powell About ‘Joy’
Julie was clearly a huge fan of Julia Childs, which she wrote about in her memoir. “Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It’s not what I thought it was,” she penned, 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.”
Julia Childs Was Critical Of Julie Powell
People are usually pleased to hear that they have inspired someone in some way. However, Julia Childs, who died in 2004 before Julie’s memoir was published, was quite critical of Julie’s blog and her efforts to replicate her dishes. “Well, she just doesn’t seem very serious, does she?” she asked food writer and columnist Russ Parsons after he sent her some links to Julie’s blog, per his 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“I worked very hard on that book. I tested and retested those recipes for eight years so that everybody could cook them. And many, many people have. I don’t understand how she could have problems with them,” Julia continued, according to Russ’ recollection. “She just must not be much of a cook.” Harsh critic!
Julia Powell Had No Kids
Julie Powell, who was born on April 20, 1973 in Austin, Texas, had no children. When she died, she was survived by her parents, John and Kay, her husband, and her brother, Jordon.