This NY Times piece about how the French are largely unaware of Julia Child reminded me that she wasn't always "all that" in American professional kitchens either. When I began my professional cooking career in 1981, most of the people I met were who had been working in kitchens for a while were either dismissive of her, or in some instances hostile.
Rene Chardin, a chef born in Champagne, France and for whom I worked from 1982-83, often teased me by comparing my technique to Julia Child's. In the 1990's when I was teaching at the New York Restaurant School, there was an instructor there who had been a sous chef at the Rainbow Room when Julia Child came in to do a spot as a guest chef. Jim (not his real name) told me that the kitchen staff thought she was a joke; a home cook that did not belong in a professional kitchen. They called her "shoemaker" behind her back and some refused to work with her.
Of course, my anecdotal experience does not prove that anti-Julia sentiment was widespread in American professional kitchens, but I'm certain that there was more of it then than now.
A ‘French Chef’ Whose Appeal Doesn’t Translate - NYTimes.com