The definition of excellence.

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 07/17/12 •  3 min read

A food blog I subscribe to just sent me a reminder that next month is Julia Child’s 100th birthday.

I mention this because we’re talking excellence today, and there’s no question that, at least in regards to food, Julia Child was excellent. No matter what she did — coq au vin, bouillabaisse, beef bourguignon — she not only did it very, very well, but she did it with style and grace. And she made it look oh-so easy.

Not that it was easy. As you know, looks can be quite deceiving. Oh, sure, it may have appeared easy for Julia to turn out a five-star five-course meal. But it took years and years of practice and study to make it look that way. I’ve heard that when she first started out, it took her, along with a team of volunteers, 19-plus hours to put together one of her half-hour TV shows. So clearly, excellence wasn’t a walk in the park.

That said, I think one of the things I liked best about Julia Child was her humanity. No matter what happened — if a pancake didn’t flip, if a souffle fell —  she was willing  to share her mistakes, along with her recoveries, with her TV audience.  “If you are alone in the kitchen, who is going to see?” she famously said.

Skiers can learn alot from Julia. You know those guys you see out there, the ones who can tackle the toughest terrain and make it look like child’s play? Lots of hours on the boards. Lots of falls. Lots of instruction. And like Julia Child, it took them years to get that good. And mis-steps? You know there were plenty. Handled with grace, we can learn alot from them.

As skiers, excellence is something we all aspire to. I’d love to be able to handle anything on the mountain with grace and style. I’m not there yet, and frankly, I’m not sure I ever will be. But the journey toward that is sure to be fun.

I leave you with a few appropriate Julia Child quotes:

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

“Once you have mastered a technique, you barely have to look at a recipe again”

As the French Chef herself might’ve said, a tout a l’heure. (translation: see you later.)