Local Author Explores Julia Child Through Her Cat's Eyes

Ossining writer to launch latest work at Pleasantville's Village Bookstore Friday.

Many know the story of Julia Child, the chef and television personality whose French cooking style cookbooks were at the forefront of American popular culture in the 1960s and 1970s.

And Ossining's Susanna Reich is no exception.

"I watched her growing up and always loved her," Reich said. "When I saw the movie Julia & Julia...it rekindled my love for Julia Child."

The Hastings native—a modern dancer turned floral designer turned children's book author—even met Child in January of 1993 at one of her 80th birthday parties.

"She had a series of birthday parties across the country," Reich explained. "The New York party was held at the Rainbow Room—it was a black tie gala and all of New York's culinary stars were there."

A flower designer at the time, Reich was in charge of making all of the party's centerpieces and large flower arrangements.

"I also made her birthday present—it was a four-foot-long whisk I decorated with roses, orchids and pearls," she recalled. "[Child] was really, really pleased. She appreciated both the humor and the symbolism."

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After Julia & Julia came out in 2009, Reich begam researching Child, knowing she wanted to write a children's book about her.

"I went back and read everything I could find on her," she said. "I loved her memoir and in her letters she writes quite a bit about her cat. I guess people don't know she was a cat lover."

Reich, also a cat lover (read an interview with her cat Chloe here), thought this detail would be a perfect way to introduce Julia Child to children.

Her new book, Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat, follows the pair when Child first moved to Paris to attend Le Cordon Bleu.

"She didn't know much about cooking before she moved to France," Reich said. "The cat was living with her at this crucial moment of her life where she was discovering her true calling. The book shows Julia discovering Paris and falling in love with cooking."

The book's launch corresponds with what would have been Childs' 100th birthday (she died in 2004 at age 91) and she is celebrating with a special launch and party at in Pleasantville on Friday.

"I'll be talking about Julia Child and the book and her cat," she said. "There will be cat and mouse cookies and a surprise giveaway."

While Minette's Feast is a children's book, it's also an accurate depiction of Child, Reich said.

"It weaves the two stories together," she explained. "It's about Julia becoming Julia and the cat who got to eat her leftovers."

The launch party will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at The Village Bookstore and is free for all ages.

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