Julie Powell, the food blogger best known for her cooking memoir, Julie & Julia, which inspired a film starring Meryl Streep, has died at the age of 49.
Her husband, Eric Powell, confirmed to the New York Times that she died of cardiac arrest at their home in Olivebridge in upstate New York on 26 October.
Powell rose to prominence in 2002 when, approaching her 30th birthday as “a secretary who lives with her husband, three cats and a python above a diner on a barren street in Long Island City”, she set herself a year-long quest to recreate all 524 recipes from her mother’s copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, a 1961 classic by Julia Child, a TV chef and the doyenne of French cookery in the US.
As a cook with no training, Powell documented her struggles in the kitchen via the popular, witty and self-deprecating food blog Julie/Julia Project in Salon.com.
Food editor Amanda Hesser, who wrote about Powell’s project in the New York Times in 2003, said in an email after her death: “Her writing was so fresh, spirited – sometimes crude! – and so gloriously unmoored to any tradition … The internet democratized food writing, and Julie was the new school’s first distinctive voice.”
In 2005, Powell’s blog was turned into the bestseller Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen; its paperback edition was subtitled “My Year of Cooking Dangerously”.
Her memoir inspired the 2009 film Julie & Julia, starring Amy Adams as Powell and Meryl Streep as Julia Child. It was the last film written and directed by Nora Ephron, who died in 2012.
In 2009, Powell published her second book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession, which explored her relationship with her husband.
Her publisher, Judy Clain, the editor-in-chief of Little, Brown and Co, paid tribute to Powell, writing: “Julie & Julia became an instant classic and it is with gratitude for her unique voice that we will now remember Julie’s dazzling brilliance and originality.”
Powell is survived by her husband, brother and parents.