‘julie & Julia’ Best-selling Author Julie Powell Passes Away at Age 49


Julie Powell, the bestseller author of “Julie & Julia,” who notably documented her yearlong ambition to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” died on October 26 at her home in Olivebridge, New York. She was 49 years old.

Ethan Powell, the prominent food writer’s brother-in-law, confirmed her death to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, saying the cause was cardiac arrest caused by a heart arrhythmia, which the Mayo Clinic defines as an abnormal heartbeat.

Powell gained popularity in the early 2000s when, dissatisfied with her mundane 9-to-5 job in New York, she determined to cook all of the meals in Child’s cookbook in a year. In her Salon.com blog, “The Julie/Julia Project,” she wrote candidly and eloquently about her journey through French cuisine.

It quickly attracted hundreds of millions of readers who were captivated by her ambition and relatability.

“That first [blog] was like standing on the high dive,” she told The New York Times in 2003. “There was a palpable rush of exhilaration. I had posted it, and it was now public, and I couldn’t take it back. That was the highest point on the roller coaster.”

How did Julie Powell die? Cardiac arrest causes death of author behind ' Julie and Julia' book, husband Eric Powell says - ABC7 Los Angeles

In 2005, Powell released “Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen,” a book about the life-altering, frenetic experience that was eventually made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Meryl Streep as Child and Amy Adams as Powell.

Powell learned and shared essential life lessons through cooking and writing that extended far beyond the ability to steam a live crab or bone a duck.

“‘Julie & Julia’ became an immediate classic, and we will now remember Julie’s brilliant intelligence and creativity with gratitude for her unique voice,” Powell’s editor, Julie Clain, head of the Little, Brown publishing business, said in a statement sent to The Times.

“We grieve her loss alongside her husband Eric and family.” We extend our heartfelt sympathies to everyone who knew and loved Julie, whether in person or through the strong bonds she formed with readers of her memoirs. She was a talented writer as well as a brave and original individual, and she will not be forgotten.”

Following the success of “Julie & Julia,” Powell wrote a second memoir, “Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession,” about her marriage to Eric Powell. Powell has written for a variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit, in addition to blogs and books.

“By the time Julia [Child] died, just shy of her 92nd birthday, in 2004, I was attempting to embrace her attitude both to food and to life,” Powell wrote in a Los Angeles Times column in 2012.

“The discipline, hard work, and curiosity she highlighted had unexpectedly led me to the start of a profession and, less unexpectedly but perhaps more importantly, to a very exquisite boeuf bourguignonne.” Now I’m trying to follow in her footsteps. Not just to follow my happiness, but to pursue it relentlessly, nose to the ground.”

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