As a child, Steel was entranced by the quirkiness of Julia Child.
Tanya Steel: You know growing up in a very English household, food was something that we loved but my mother never knew how to make. My mother to this day makes the best tea and coffee I’ve ever had in my life, but she really can’t make anything else. She grew up in Africa, and she never was taught how to cook by her mother who was, in fact, a fantastic cook. So I never learned from my mother how to cook. I actually learned from Julia Child. And at the age of seven – and I remember this; it’s one of those …moments – I remember tasting something and thinking, “This really is not very good, and I bet I could make it better.” And at the time the French chef was on relentlessly on PBS. And you know you only had 13 channels at that time, and I watched it over and over and over again. And I really loved Julia Child. She influenced me so much in so many ways – her silliness, her love of food, the relaxed quality about food, not taking it very seriously; and also the whole point about food being something that connects each other and is something that you can do together. So I literally learned how to cook from the age of seven. And that’s one of the reasons why I find it so important to teach children how to cook and the importance of teaching children how to eat well. And actually I’m coming out with a cookbook about that very subject in a couple months.
Recorded on: 1/17/08