Julia Child, whose dry wit and skill as a chef popularized cooking shows on American television, has been accused in a $3-million lawsuit of being "rabidly homophobic."
Child was named as a defendant in a civil suit filed Friday by a San Francisco man, Daniel Coulter, 35, who alleged that he was denied a job as executive director of the American Institute for Wine and Food because the famed chef did not want a homosexual in charge.
Child was one of the founders of the institute and is an honorary chairwoman.
In response to the suit, Child said she had never heard of Coulter and had nothing to do with hiring practices.
Another founder of the institute, Richard Graff, called the allegation absurd and said Coulter was not selected because his professional background did not meet the needs of the post.
The nonprofit institute was founded in 1981 by Child, winemaker Robert Mondavi and others to advance the understanding and quality of wine and food.
San Francisco has long had an ordinance banning job discrimination against gays.
Coulter alleged that a member of the board of directors told him that "Ms. Child's homophobia" would undermine his effectiveness if he were hired for the job.
Coulter's suit seeks $3 million in damages for alleged emotional distress and humiliation, invasion of privacy and violation of civil rights.