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Pikesville woman shows off items from Julia Child in her kitchen

Dara Bunjon, a local food historian, purchased this color proof for a cookbook by Julia Child.
Dara Bunjon, a local food historian, purchased this color proof for a cookbook by Julia Child.(Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun)

As a veteran food historian and publicist, Dara Bunjon has rubbed shoulders with the culinary industry’s elite. But none have left as big a mark as Julia Child.

Bunjon, who lives in Pikesville, has a number of items from Child in her home, such as an oven mitt, Charlotte mold and two tea towels. She proudly displays a framed four-page color proof of one of Child’s earlier manuscripts on the wall of her breakfast room.

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“Julia Child, in sharing her passion for cooking; her persistence to learn herself, she planted the seeds that have blossomed for numerous chefs and home cooks in the pursuit of all things culinary,” Bunjon says. “She mesmerized with her unique voice, her sense of humor and, most importantly, extensive knowledge. She was and still is a culinary icon.”

Bunjon did not just admire Child from a distance. The two were acquaintances. They met a number of times. Bunjon even attended an outing in Maryland where Child ate her first Maryland crabs.

“That was very fun. A bunch of us eating crabs with Julia Child,” recalls Bunjon, who has a treasured picture of the experience.

Bunjon typically doesn’t call much attention to the displayed proof.

Dara Bunjon, a local food historian, purchased this color proof for a cookbook by Julia Child. The 24-inch by 36-inch color proof of 33 photographs of everything from Child cooking to detailed shots of lobsters, pots, fruits and mussels, is in pristine condition. Bunjon spent $225 on the proof.
Dara Bunjon, a local food historian, purchased this color proof for a cookbook by Julia Child. The 24-inch by 36-inch color proof of 33 photographs of everything from Child cooking to detailed shots of lobsters, pots, fruits and mussels, is in pristine condition. Bunjon spent $225 on the proof. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun)

“Most don’t even recognize what it is,” she says with a laugh. “I play cards with the girls every four weeks and they never say anything. People who would appreciate what it is, I tell them.”

Bunjon acquired all her memorabilia through the annual American Institution of Wine and Food auction. Bunjon was a longtime board member of the Baltimore chapter of the now-defunct organization.

“They don’t look brand new,” she says of the kitchen products, which Child donated to the auction after she was “breaking down” her California home. “These were used items.”

The 24-inch-by-36-inch color proof of 33 photographs of everything from Child cooking to detailed shots of lobsters, pots, fruits and mussels, is in pristine condition.

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Bunjon spent $225 on the proof. She suspects that the images were shot during the mid-to late ’60s toward the beginnings of the Child’s ascent into fame.

“I have the letter authenticating it,” says Bunjon, who hosts a weekly talk show with various food personalities, The Food Enthusiast, on Facebook Live for Jmoreliving.com.

The annual auctions were a big fundraiser for the organization and the money raised went to the program Days of Taste, where chefs went to elementary schools to educate youth about where food was sourced, Bunjon explains.

“These auctions were very successful,” Bunjon says.

Bunjon hasn’t inquired about how much her memorabilia from Child has appreciated—if at all. She says she once watched a PBS “Antique Roadshow” episode featuring pieces from Child.

“It wasn’t valued very high,” she says.

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But Bunjon isn’t interested in parting with her mementos.

“It’s not anything I’m looking to sell,” Bunjon says. “She was an icon. She did amazing things and opened the doors. There’s enough about her that you could do a bunch of movies.”

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