GateHouse News ServiceJulia Child would have turned 100 years old on Aug. 15. The author of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and star of PBS television’s “The French Chef” was recently honored at Hartstone Inn & Hideaway in Camden, Maine, where a prixe fixe menu offered the same courses as Child enjoyed on her 89th birthday.
Child had read about the Hartstone Inn in Food + Wine Magazine and wanted to spend a few nights there. But as it turned out, there weren’t any rooms available. Innkeepers/owners Mary Joe Brink and Michael Salmon arranged for Julia to stay at another location, and they welcomed her for dinner. But this was no ordinary dinner. Salmon spent time researching all of Julia’s favorites to come up with a menu he knew she would love.
Although he had catered to many a celebrity in the past, having worked in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, he was simply star-struck with Julia’s upcoming visit. The year was 2001, before the couple bought the Hideaway across the street from the Inn, before they acquired the property across the way, and before they started their twice-annual foodie tour groups to Tuscany, Italy, and Loire Valley, France.
As they tell the story, “It took one course before we ‘cracked’ Julia,” and she relaxed. In fact, Julia enjoyed the Inn to the point where she insisted on entering their home to meet the couple’s two cats and promised to be back to celebrate her 90th birthday. Unfortunately, circumstances beyond her control — her health, mainly –– prevented her from returning (she died two days before she would have turned 91), but her spirit lives on in the Hartstone Inn, where her favorites were recently re-created and served to over two-dozen diners.
As part of Chef Michael’s amazing teaching kitchen, I was able to assist in preparing her favorite black raspberry soufflé, as well as helping out in seasoning the quail with Chinese 5-spice (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Schezuan pepper and fennel) and making the papaya dressing for the incredible lobster knuckle salad. All the while, I stood exactly where Julia posed for a picture with the innkeepers while she oversaw her dinner being prepared.Charlene Peters is editor of special features at GateHouse Media New England. She can be reached at