Julia Child's Favorite Place For Cookware Was A 200-Year-Old Paris Icon

The mixing bowl with a chipped rim. The battered measuring cup. The one-handled rolling pin. People who love cooking tend to develop an attachment to tried-and-tested tools that bring fond memories. For Julia Child, it was her collection of Dehillerin cookware. The iconic chef, author, and television personality discovered Dehillerin in the late 1940s when she was living with her husband, Paul, in Paris. For almost a decade before marrying, Childs worked for the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, including posts in India and China. When she moved with Paul to Paris in 1948, Childs enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu, one of the world's pre-eminent culinary academies. She was on a class field trip exploring the markets of Paris with her instructor, Chef Max Bugnard when she discovered Dehillerin.

"I was thunderstruck," Childs wrote in her 2006 memoir, "My Life in Paris." "Dehillerin was the kitchen-equipment store of all time, a restaurant supply-house stuffed with an infinite number of wondrous gadgets, tools, implements, and gewgaws." The awe she experienced wandering the aisles of Dehillerin, in what must have been a "Wizard of Oz"-esque Dorothy-sees-Emerald City-for-the-first-time moment, jumps from the pages of her autobiography as she recalls in wonder the "big shiny copper kettles, turbotières, fish and chicken poachers, eccentrically shaped frying pans, tiny wooden spoons, and enormous mixing paddles." She didn't know it then, but Childs had just discovered the iconic store that would become her go-to source for cookware for the next 50-plus years.

The cookery store that made Julia Child swoon

In the mid-20th century, when Julia Child first walked into Dehillerin, the cookery shop was already famous among Parisian chefs. Established in the 1820s by Eugène de Hillerin, a descendant of pre-Revolution French nobility, Dehillerin was initially a one-stop shop for household goods and hardware. As his business became more successful, de Hillerin acquired related enterprises, including a boilermaker shop and a tinning workshop. By 1890, de Hillerin had consolidated his business operations at one address, 18-20 Rue Coquillière, in the 1st arrondissement. It's the site Childs visited more than 70 years ago, where cooking enthusiasts still walk in her footsteps today.

Located about a half mile from The Louvre, Dehillerin remains a family-owned business. Currently operated by Eugene de Hillerin's great-grandsons, Eric and Edouard, the old-world store has a worldwide reputation among professional chefs and enthusiastic amateur cooks who covet its signature copperware. The operation also takes pride in the self-described "Aladdin's Cave" ambiance of the store, where tools created for 21st-century cooking methods — future collectors' items, perhaps? — hang from white pegboards alongside vintage-style tin-plated molds and ornamental skewers. Wondering what became of Julia Child's collection of Dehillerin cookware? According to Smithsonian Magazine, it's safe and secure on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., along with the entire kitchen from her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.