Exclusive: How the creators of HBO’s ‘Julia’ painstakingly recreated the French chef’s kitchen

Julia Child’s kitchen is so iconic that it is housed in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. There, on the ground floor, you can see the very room in which one of the most eminent chefs in the country changed the way we cook (except for the floor and the walls, which are fabrications).

From the signature blue pegboard wall that held his collection of copper cookware to the custom countertops that were built two inches higher than store-bought models in order to accommodate his 6-foot-2 frame, the kitchen de Child remains one of a kind and instantly recognizable in popular culture.

That’s why the creators of HBO’s limited series “Julia” had to take such care in recreating the French chef’s cuisine.

Related: The joy of HBO Max’s Julia Child series, a deliciously loving celebration of an icon

In a new HBO featurette titled ‘Inside Julia’s Kitchen,’ the creative minds behind Child’s painstaking recreation of two of Child’s most famous kitchens — her kitchen at home and her TV kitchen on the set of ‘The French Chef’ — have drawn the curtain on their work, which grounded the real story told in authenticity.

“We made it a little bigger for our decor,” said production designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein. “But we brought a veritas to it that an ensemble wouldn’t normally have.”

Production designer Stephen Cooper agreed, “If the average person went to the Smithsonian and looked at the kitchen there and our kitchen, I don’t think they would stand out much.”

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The feat required not only having a keen eye for detail, but also the ability to creatively find discarded kitchen utensils and materials that were “almost impossible to find”. The filming function was also a priority; for example, the ovens were designed in such a way that the production cameras could capture unique images of the interior.

However, the attention to historical accuracy did not stop with the set. The producers of “Julia” worked with veteran food stylist Christine Tobin — whose credits include “American Hustle,” “Little Women” and “Olive Kitteridge” — to ensure Child’s signature dishes like beef bourguignon and the Queen of Sheba cake are also successful. Together, they ensured everything felt authentically “Julia” on camera.

“Working with Sarah (Lancashire, who plays Child) and her cooking was almost like choreographing a dance,” Tobin told Home and kitchen tool Food in an interview. “There were days like that, which were very busy with meetings and planning, but on past projects, I’ve never really been brought into that bubble, or as I like to call it, ‘the stew’ . I really learned to understand all the moving parts of doing a show like this from start to finish.”

For more on the making of the “Julia” set, you can watch HBO’s never-before-seen featurette for the very first time below.

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