The 'French chef' cooks American on new TV series

''Dinner at Julia's'' is unlike any of the other cooking shows Julia Child has done - and for this new series, Mr. and Mrs. Child and television crew shifted from Boston to California for three months of shooting the 13 half-hour shows that will air in the fall.

With a slick new format based on American food and new video techniques, the series differs considerably from the first of ''The French Chef'' shows that originated in Boston's WGBH-TV studios in 1962.

There are also changes in Julia's wardrobe and a new hairdo, which have caused considerable comment in various media but are too slight to make much of an impression on longtime fans.

More bright colors and dresses for dinner may be evident, but it is still the same breezy, enthusiastic, thoroughly American Julia who unraveled the mysteries of French cooking for millions of Americans on her early television programs.

Instead of concentrating on one dish or one technique as in previous shows, the central focus now is the dinner or ''the feast'' as the television crew calls it.

There are several sequences leading up to the dinner, including a scene of the table setting, an interview with a visiting chef, and segments showing where the food comes from and how to cook it.

These all point to the dinner, which starts when Julia greets guests in the living room with her husband Paul, an artist and photographer who has always been supportive and interested in her work.

At the seated dinner for 10 in the elegant dining room, the Childs chat with guests as the camera shows the food served on a beautiful table with fine china, crystal, candelight, and flowers.

The setting is a handsome, Colonial-style house outside Santa Barbara equipped with a dream kitchen. I talked on the phone with Julia as they were finishing up the last two shows.

''It's very exciting working on this program,'' she said, ''and Russ Morash, our producer, is using new techniques that make it a faster-paced show than any I've done before.

''We show some of the preparation for a dish, then all of a sudden you see the finished product. It's marvelous camera work.

''The recipes are for fairly advanced cooks,'' she said. ''We don't spend a lot of time chopping vegetables.

''And we have some wonderful guest chefs. They tell me about their specialties, and they each cook a dish, sometimes an appetizer or a very splendid dessert.

''I talk with Jim Cohen, chef of the Tante Louise restaurant in Denver, and make crayfish bisque with the chef of the famous Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans, Louis Evans.''

''We have a show with Rene Verdon from the Trianon restaurant in San Francisco,'' she said. ''And Sally Darr, the talented chef from La Tulipe in New York City, shows us how she makes her famous tulip pastries.

''Then, on one show, we visit a chicken farm, and our guest for that program, Wolfgang Puck, of West Hollywood's Spago restaurant, cooks a dish called Chicken Winged Victory.''

Other scenes show Julia in boots and slicker, slogging through the woods to find wild mushrooms; fishing for salmon in Seattle; visiting a chocolate factory; looking over kiwi, walnut, and avocado farms; and investigating a special smoke house for smoked salmon.

The guest chefs come from all areas of the United States. Here are some of the others who will cook with Julia during the series. Moncef Meddab from L'Espalier in Boston will make Lobster and Buttercup Squash Flan.

Jean Claude Prevot from Jean Claude in Dallas will make Aiguillette de Canard Buissoniere.

Leslee Reiss from Cafe Provencal in Chicago will make Curried Oysters with Pureed Carrots.

Brad Ogden from American Restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., will make Sugarbush Mountain Maple Mousse.

Other chefs are Yves Labbe, La Vieille Maison, Boca Raton, Fla.; Francois Kissell, Brasserie Pittsburgh, Seattle, Wash.; Jean Pierre Goyenvalle, Le Lion d'Or, Washington, D.C. and Douglas Grech, Restaurant Duglass, Detroit, Mich.

Although the first Julia Child TV cooking shows were limited to French cooking, later shows changed when it seemed time to get away from the strictly classic French cuisine.

''We drew from a number of cooking traditions, since that really is the American way of doing things,'' she said.

Julia Child praises the constantly improving quality of American vegetables and the search for fresher foods, such as wild mushrooms and the goat cheese made here rather than imported.

Comparing American cuisine to the French, Julia thinks we're lucky not to be shackled by tradition the way the French are.

''We no longer have to bow down to foreigners,'' she said. ''We can be proud of what we have here.

''Since the chefs are from all over the United States, it is mostly an American show, but I wouldn't say every single recipe is an American recipe.

''But every one is delicious, good food - and each program tells you how to entertain and make it fun.''

The change from French to American cooking has been evident in newspaper and magazine features, such as her recent Parade articles and in her books ''Julia Child's Kitchen'' and '' Julia Child & Company,'' published by Knopf.

The television series ''The French Chef'' along with five books and numerous magazine and newspaper articles earned her two awards from the French government , as well as many other citations from food and gourmet societies.

The first cookbook, ''Mastering the Art of French Cooking,'' written with Simone Beck and Louise Bertholle is still considered the definitive English-language book on French cooking.

So it is easy to see why the Childs still have strong connections in France. They spend several months a year there in their house in the Alpes-Maritimes; their home is in Cambridge, Mass. They also find time each year to visit California, Mrs. Child's home state.

All the segments for the new program were taped on location in California, from December through May, with Julia and Paul Child heading a caravan of supporting-cast members.

In the group were Russell Morash, producer; his wife Marion, Julia's executive chef who wrote ''The Victory Garden Cookbook''; and the Morashes' two daughters, Vicky, production assistant, and Kate, a student now enrolled at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The sound engineer, John Bevard, is from Los Angeles - as is Debbie Waite, Julia's personal stylist, and Rosemary Manell, executive food designer and a longtime friend who has worked on many projects with Julia.

Other members of the camera crew were from Boston and Los Angeles.

The PBS debut of the new series, co-produced by WGBH-TV in Boston and Julia Child Productions Inc., is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 13, at 8:30 p.m. Check listings for local times and dates.

Here is a recipe from ''Julia Child & More Company'' which she has recommended in a company menu including rack of lamb for a very special occasion , several colorful vegetables, amd Fresh Strawberries and Hazelnut Cornucopias with whipped cream for dessert.

This recipe for artichokes was listed on the menu for the cold appetizer, but it would be excellent for lunch, or with mushrooms instead of shellfish, an excellent vegetable for dinner. Artichoke Scoops With Shellfish Vinaigrette: 1/2 tablespoon very finely minced shallots or scallions 1/2 teaspoon or more salt 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves 1 raw egg yolk 1 teaspoon Dijon-type mustard 1 tablespoon each lemon juice and wine vinegar 6 tablespoons light olive oil or best-quality salad oil Freshly ground pepper Drops of hot pepper sauce, optional Other ingredients: About 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces or 340 g) cooked shellfish meat, or raw mushrooms Salt, pepper, oil, lemon juice - as needed3 large fine boiled or steamed artichokes

To make vinaigrette, mash shallots or scallions in small bowl with salt, then with tarragon. Beat in yolk then mustard, then lemon juice and vinegar.

In a small stream, beat in oil. Season to taste with pepper, hot pepper sauce and more salt if needed. Sauce should be a pale yellow cream with a light thickening so it will film the shellfish but not mask it.

This is best made just before using. If it separates shake in a screw-topped jar.

To assemble turn the shellfish or mushrooms into a bowl and pick out any possible debris. Fold in the dressing and let sit 10 minutes, folding several times. Taste, and add lemon, oil and seasonings if needed.

Slice artichokes in half lengthwise and scoop out the central core of leaves and chokes with a teaspoon. Shortly before serving, pile sauced filling into each cavity.

It is best not to sauce the filling too far ahead for fear the sauce may separate. Instead toss the shellfish with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice and oil; cover and refrigerate. Fold in sauce and assemble 10 minutes before serving. Boiled or Steamed Artichokes

First hold each artichoke head under a stream of cold water, spreading the leaves gently apart to give a thorough washing. Slice off 1/2 inch (1 1/2 cm) from stem bottoms, and pull off any small or withered leaves at the base.

To boil drop into large kettle of enough boiling water to submerge completely , and boil slowly for 30 to 40 minutes, or until bases of artichokes are tender and the bottom leaf is tender when you pull it through your teeth.

To steam, place in a vegetable rack in a covered kettle with 2 inches (5 cm) of water, and steam 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Drain the artichokes bottom up, and serve them hot, warm, or tepid, or cold for preceding recipe.

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