Julia Child portrayal to cook up laughs

Special to the Tribune Chronicle Karen Vuranch will portray coookbook author and TV personality Julia Child as part of Ohio Chautauqua on June 27 in downtown Warren.

WARREN — Award-winning storyteller and actress Karen Vuranch will portray cookbook author and TV personality Julia Child when she performs at Ohio Chautauqua.

The free performance will be at 7:30 p.m. June 27 under the tent at the Kinsman House grounds, 303 Mahoning Ave. NW, in downtown Warren.

Ohio Chautauqua is a program of the Ohio Humanities, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The free community event is hosted by the Tribune Chronicle and the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, with support from the Trumbull 100, the Charitable Remainder Trust of Raymond L. and Janice M. Bland, the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau and in partnership with The Warren Heritage Center.

Each themed series visits eight Ohio communities over the course of two summers. The other locations hosting Ohio Chautauqua this year are Defiance, Milan and neighboring Geauga County. This year’s theme is “Modern Legends” and will feature other mid-20th century figures Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Erma Bombeck, Robert F. Kennedy and Cesar Chavez.

Julia Child brought her love of French cooking to the American public in the 1960s. According to Vuranch, she used her high energy and humor to change the way Americans thought about food.

“I actually use the format of the TV set. I pretend that we are filming an episode of her first show, ‘The French Chef.’ Using one of her most famous recipes, Boeuf Bourguignon, I simulate making that recipe. But at various points in the recipe, I go into detail about aspects of her life. I talk about her life in France and learning to cook, writing her famous cookbook, ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking,’ her television show and her work in the Office of Strategic Services in World War II. Through it all, I try to emulate her enthusiasm and zest for life,” Vuranch said about her upcoming performance.

Her TV show was a sensation, showing that anyone could cook well, and it was the first public TV show to win an Emmy.

“Today, food is an art form and celebrated. Julia contributed to this impact on several levels. Her joy and enthusiasm was contagious and she created not only a popular show, but successfully encouraged the American public to cook,” Vuranch said. “She also believed in the culinary arts and helped establish the credibility of the profession.”

Child helped create the American Institute of Wine and Food, the first professional culinary organization for in the U.S., and created the James Beard Foundation to encourage and provide scholarships for new chefs. She also worked with Boston College to create the first academic program in the culinary arts.

“Today there are over 1,000 programs in America. Julia led the way for chefs and culinary experts that followed,” Vuranch said. “She was truly a trailblazer.”

Vuranch is a storyteller, actress and writer who is known for bringing history to life with her performances.

She has portrayed Julia Child for Chautauqua and other programs for about 10 years. She also has performed as Clara Barton, Pearl S. Buck, Emma Edmonds and Mary Draper Ingles for Ohio Chautauqua.

“I have 13 characters in my repertoire and also have performed for Chautauquas in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, West Virginia and Missouri,” Vuranch said.

In addition to her evening performance on June 27, Vuranch also will give a free daytime program for youth at 11 a.m. June 25 at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library’s main branch, 444 Mahoning Ave. NW. Her presentation, aimed at children 8 and up, is titled “Stories of Food and Fun.”

For adults, Vuranch will present “Food Fads in America: From feasting and fasting, frozen to fabulous” at 2 p.m. June 29, also at the library.

Before her evening performance, attendees can catch a free concert by Hal Walker, a folk singer and instrumentalist, at 6:30 p.m. under the tent.