Dancer. Model. Chef. Walking Encyclopedia. GranVida Resident.
Julien. The Celebrity’s Chef.
The Early Years
A New York native, Julien Stuart has enjoyed an incredible life—so far. His first career was as a dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, performing with the Joffrey Ballet Academy at City Center in Manhattan.
“I danced in Escarte, The Three-Cornered Hat, Petrushka, and many other modern ballets that Gerald Arpino and Robert Joffrey had choreographed.”
But dancing wasn’t enough. Always hungry for knowledge, Julien earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Hunter College with an emphasis in French and Journalism, then his Master’s Degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
“I took a lot of Art History classes, then went to the Library School in Pittsburgh for a one-year Master’s program. I found some jobs in the field, but I found them boring and I wasn’t really interested in pursuing that type of career.”
While trying to figure out what he really wanted to do when he grew up, Julien became a fashion model and graced the pages of GQ Magazine among other prestigious publications. Never enamored with the glitz of high fashion, Julien wanted to focus on more serious things.
“I was beginning to take care of my Mother who had Alzheimer’s, so I was tied up with that.”
This was a profoundly personal introduction to a disease that has become one of the nation’s most urgent priorities. Julien also learned about the challenges of taking care of an elderly parent, something many of us will face as we, and our parents, age.
“I love to cook and I always wanted to be a chef.”
He decided to pursue this lifelong dream by enrolling in a two-year program at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park.
“Now, it’s a four-year program. I was lucky, I got good jobs.”
“For the Saks job, I had to audition and make a dinner for 50 to 75 people. They then assessed it and I was hired. There, I met celebrities like Paloma Picasso, who was launching a fragrance line, and Karl Lagerfeld, the German designer, who took over Coco Chanel’s business when she retired.”
After that great debut as a working chef, Julien became the personal and corporate chef for billionaires Neil Hirsch and Malcolm Forbes, rubbing elbows with celebrities the likes of Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, New York Mayor Ed Koch and Oscar de la Renta, to name a few.
During this time, in an effort to hone and expand his culinary skills, Julien travelled throughout Europe to study side-by-side with many well-known chefs including “the Julia Child of Italian cuisine” and “the woman who brought Italy to our kitchens” Marcella Hazan at her renown culinary school in Bologna, Italy.
“Malcolm Forbes would invite the heads of corporations to parties and sprinkle in celebrities so it would be glamorous. They had two very large kitchens at their own building on Fifth Avenue and 10th Street, so they could serve a couple of hundred people. Often these extravaganzas had themes that I had to follow. One of them had a theme of ‘Malcolm Forbes around the world on two wheels and gas balloons’.”
Other parties were in one of his eight homes around the world.
“I was a chef for a total of about 20 years in all. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right times. I always maintained that you have to eat with your eyes first. It’s first a visual experience, and then, a full on sensory experience of taste, smell and feel.”
Finding His Life Partner
While Julien led a full and rewarding professional life, he rarely had time to socialize. He was fortunate to meet and fall in love with his husband and life partner of 21 years, Arthur Lindo.
“Having someone in your life like Arthur is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. He’s my best friend, my travel partner, my sounding board and my life partner. And, he loves my cooking. He’s just amazing.”
Julien surprises many people by his vast knowledge about many things, such as science, art, classical music, painting, sculptures, and just about anything else. Some GranVida team members say he’s like a walking Google and their “Wi-Fi”.
“Every week, we travel around the world. On Monday, we might visit India. On other days, we travel to Australia or China, and we’ll learn about their culture, we do trivia, we learn about their history, their music, and many different things related to that particular country, including what they like to eat and how they prepare their meals.”
Trying to further flex his cooking muscles, Julien also placed third in the 2017 annual Avocado Festival Guacamole Contest, not an easy task in his first attempt.
“It’s not bad to place third considering that the lady who won has always been winning for so many years and it was my first participation in this contest. Everyone loved my guacamole.”
When he’s not leading cooking classes at GranVida, Julien loves listening to classical music and especially enjoys our community’s pianist. And he can still dance like, well…look out Baryshnikov!