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Julia Triumphant

“He stole half my truffles!” said Michel Blanchet, pointing an accusing knife at Daniel Boulud.

“He needed them!” said Jean-Louis Palladin. “Did you see his recipe for rillettes ? It’s half pork and half truffles. Of course he didn’t have enough.”

Gilbert Le Coze picked up one of the black nuggets, sniffed it luxuriously and smiled. “Did you taste the rillettes ?” he asked. “Wonderful!”

“Only the best for Julia,” said Boulud.

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It’s not often you find the best chefs from New York, Washington and Los Angeles standing together over a hot stove. But nothing’s too good for Julia Child, who is as revered in France as she is in America because of all she’s done for French cooking. So when Michel Richard asked his pals to help him throw a party to honor the Grande Dame of cooking (and to raise money for her favorite charity, the American Institute of Wine and Food), everybody showed up.

The last such gathering of culinary All-Stars was in Monte Carlo, when French chefs honored Craig Claiborne. Los Angeles proved to be an equal draw: “Merci Julia” was laced with triple-star Michelin chefs (Paul Bocuse, Marc Meneau, Roger Verger . . . ) and so many state-side chefs and restaurateurs that you can safely say that if they are French and run a restaurant of any consequence in any city in this country, they were there. (Those who weren’t invited to help cook came along for the party.) It was an evening of endless truffles and foie gras, a night when they did the Can Can, when Champagne flowed like water. Dinner took five hours--and it was terrific.

“The Super Bowl was great for the city,” said Joachim Splichal, who looked incredibly happy to see so many old friends, “but this . . . this proves what a great food center L.A. has become.”


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