Our new co-host Julia Collin Davison needs no introduction. If you’ve been watching America’s Test Kitchen since season 1, you’re very familiar with our resident knife skills master. When she’s not slicing and chopping her way to culinary perfection on camera, Julia is busy in her role as executive editor for America's Test Kitchen's books team. I caught up with Julia to chat about her earliest forays into cooking French bread, her transition from a psychology and philosophy major in college to the food world, and the most hilarious moment she shared with her new co-host and old friend, Bridget Lancaster, during the filming of the 2017 season.
What’s the first thing you learned to cook?
One of Julia Child's recipes for French bread. It was in the summertime, and I was home with my mom, who was sick in bed, so I was left to my own devices. My mom says that I would come upstairs every once in a while and ask her a question or two, like “Where’s the cornmeal?” or “Can I proof it in the microwave with the door shut?” and then hours later I came up with French bread. Julia Child’s recipes were really well-tested, and we had the same name so I always thought that was the coolest thing ever. It was at that point when I realized, “I can make whatever I want!”
When did you know that food was your thing?
When I was little, I loved stinky foods: blue cheese, sardines, anchovies, beer. It’s a palate—either you like that stuff or you don’t—but early on I was okay with trying different flavors to see if I liked something. So that was kind of an indication.
But it wasn’t until I was in college that I realized I might like food enough to work in it. I was studying psychology and philosophy, and on the weekends I got a job at a little gourmet food market, and I just liked it. I liked it a lot. And they kept promoting me. I thought, “You know, I must be good at this. It makes sense to me, how to organize all this food and how to sell it.” And when I graduated college, I had no idea what I was going to do, and I realized I should get a skill. And I thought, “Well, cooking is a skill.” So I went to culinary school—and it clicked. “Wow, this is not school. This is fun and I enjoy this.”