Florence Fabricant explains why over 300 people (including 80 chefs) flew into Monte Carlo from all over the world to spend this past weekend commemorating the 80th birthday of the chef Paul Bocuse in Celebrating the Ringmaster of the Restaurant Circus: "Before chefs had their own TV shows and million-dollar book deals, when today’s international obsession with chefs and restaurants was in its infancy, Mr. Bocuse was on the cover of Time magazine as the champion of nouvelle cuisine. People knew his name when they could name no one else who worked in a kitchen. "He made it possible for chefs to be respected international celebrities,” said the New York restaurateur Drew Nieporent. "And he made haute cuisine popular. His restaurant was a pilgrimage destination, the way El Bulli in Spain is today."

Other highlights:

Eric Asimov visits Park B. Smith's wine cellar in Connecticut, an 8,000-square-foot space (with its own full kitchen, bath and dining room) constructed over 25 years that currently contains over 65,000 bottles. If that number boggles your mind, consider this: "More than half of Mr. Smith’s collection is in magnums, twice the size of normal bottles, and the count doesn’t include the 14,000 bottles auctioned off by Sotheby’s last November, which raised almost $5.33 million for his alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass."

In So Naughty, So Nice, Florence Fabricant talks discusses how red velvet cake is on the ascendance in New York City: "The layers are an improbable red that can vary from a fluorescent pink to a dark ruddy mahogany. The color, often enhanced by buckets of food coloring, becomes even more eye-catching set against clouds of snowy icing, like a slash of glossy lipstick framed by platinum blond curls. Even the name has a vampy allure: red velvet. "It’s the Dolly Parton of cakes: a little bit tacky, but you love her," said Angie Mosier, a food writer in Atlanta and a board member of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi in Oxford."

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