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'Julie & Julia' food writer Julie Powell dies at 49

Julie Powell, the bestselling author who inspired the movie "Julie & Julia" by cooking her way through Julia Child's recipes, has died at the age of 49. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Julie Powell, the bestselling author who inspired the movie "Julie & Julia" by cooking her way through Julia Child's recipes, has died at the age of 49. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Julie Powell, the bestselling food writer who chronicled her efforts to cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and inspired the hit movie Julie & Julia, has died at the age of 49.

Powell died at her home in upstate New York on Oct. 26. Her husband, Eric Powell, confirmed the cause of her death was cardiac arrest, according to The New York Times.

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Powell was an aspiring writer and an untrained cook in 2002 when she tackled all 524 recipes from Child's 1961 cookbook. She wrote each day in a blog called the Julie/Julia Project for Salon.com about her difficulties and successes in the kitchen.

Powell's audience grew over the following year and reached more than 400,000 page views, according to Salon.

"I remember it being well-regarded, but not the juggernaut it became after the book," said Salon senior writer Mary Elizabeth Williams who managed Open Salon, the platform that hosted Powell's blog before her memoir was published.

"This was also pre-Slack, pre-Zoom, so as a team, a lot of people didn't even know about it. And I think the people who read Salon weren't seeking a woman writing about her home cooking," Williams said.

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Powell used her blog to reach thousands of readers on the new platform, which became the model for other bloggers and celebrity chefs, and turned her material into the memoir, "Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen." The book won Powell the first Blooker Prize in an international competition for books that started as weblogs.

"I'd written about all of it, my mistakes and my minor triumphs," Powell wrote in her book. "People -- a couple of friends, a couple of strangers, even my aunt Susie from Waxahachie -- had written in to the blog to root me on."

The book was adapted for the hit movie Julie & Julia in 2009. It was directed by Nora Ephron and starred Meryl Streep as Julia Child with Amy Adams playing the role of Powell.

Powell often wrote about her admiration for Julia Child's cooking and her way of life, even as recently as this year.

"Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It's not what I thought it was," Powell wrote earlier this year in a series of commentary pieces about the Food Network series The Julia Child Challenge.

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"I thought it was all about -- I don't know, confidence or will or luck. Those are all some good things to have, no question. But there's something else, something that these things grow out of. It's joy."

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Anita Pointer
Anita Pointer of the Grammy-winning Pointer Sisters stands with Andy Madadian (C) and La Toya Jackson (L) as Madadian is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2020. Pointer, who performed alongside her sisters June and Ruth, died at the age of 74 on December 31 following a battle with cancer. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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