Julie Powell, Chef and Author Known for ‘Julie & Julia’ Memoir Dead at 49

'Julie & Julia' author Julie Powell
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Julie Powell, an author known for cooking her way through every recipe in Julia Child‘s Mastering the Art of French Cooking book, which led to a popular food blog, her Julie & Julia memoir being adapted into a movie starring Meryl Streep, and a new wave of fans for Mrs. Child, has died on October 26 in her upstate New York home at the age of 49. Her death was reported to The New York Times by her husband, Eric Powell, who stated the cause was cardiac arrest.

Powell’s blog, initially called the Julie/Julia Project, began in 2002 on Salon.com during the turn of her 30th birthday, at a time when she had few career prospects and all the time in the world to explore the then-untapped market of blogging. The challenge of tackling the old-fashioned work of Child, paired with her witty and contemporary writing style, eventually drew a community of foodies and fans of her writing.

Little, Brown & Company turned the blog into a book, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Although some critics wrote that it lacked literary heft, it went on to sell over a million copies, mostly under the paperback title: Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously.

The notoriety called for a film adaptation of the book, which drew in names like Streep as Child and Amy Adams playing Powell. Stanley Tucci co-starred as Child’s husband, Paul, and Chris Messina played Eric Powell. The participation of Streep and Tucci came to be because as the result of director Nora Ephron’s decision to combine Powell’s memoir with Child’s own memoir My Life in France.

The success of the film boosted sales of both memoirs, and although she did not live long enough to see the film, she said to the Los Angeles Times, when asked about it, that she didn’t understand why the task of following her recipes was so difficult. “I don’t understand how she could have problems with them,” the LA Times food editor said later, quoting Child. “She just must not be much of a cook.”

Julie Foster was born on April 20, 1973, in Austin, Texas, to John and Kay Foster. Powell graduated from Amherst College in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in theater and fiction writing. She is survived by her husband, her brother, and her parents.