Cooking Experts Hold Food Bash Of the Year

FROM foie gras to pigs' trotters or lobster, name your delicacy, and it's been on the table here - literally and figuratively.

American chef Julia Child and more than 150 other cooking experts from around the world gathered here for a week of eating - and talking about it.

It's not just a pig-out for writers, restaurateurs, teachers, and cook-shop owners. This is the first time the 2,500-member International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) has held its annual meeting in this gastronomic capital. Others have been in Washington, San Francisco, Mexico, and Italy.

"This is our great foodie bash of the year," says Ethel Hofman of Merion Station, Pennsylvania, the IACP president. The prestigious event is centered at the Lutetia Hotel, with gastronomic celebrations at the top cooking schools: the Cordon Bleu, the Ritz-Escoffier, Princess Marie-Blanche de Broglie's Cuisine de Marie-Blanche, and workshop visits around town.

"They've flown in from all over - mainly the US, but also Japan, Australia, Italy, and Norway," said Andre Cointreau, owner of the Cordon Bleu, who hosted a big reception Sunday night to open the conference.

"I began my cooking with the Cordon Bleu in the late 1940s," recalled Mrs. Child, the doyenne of cuisine in America and author of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

ASTALWART food lover, Child has been participating in as many events as possible of the dozens offered, including a trip to the huge central food market, Les Halles at Rungis near Orly airport. It gets produce from France and all over the world, and dispatches it all over Europe. This meant starting out at 4:45 a.m.

Child marched around for about five hours, "and it felt like 10 kilometers," she said. "But it was fascinating, particularly the fish and vegetable sections. I saw vegetables and fruits I'd never seen or heard of before."

Dozens of workshops offer everything from a visit to a chocolate-maker to a tasting in the Ritz Hotel's Hemingway bar. Child chose the luxury grocer-restaurateur-caterer, Fauchon, and found it a real eye-opener.

"You can always learn something," she said, impressed by the operation run by executive chef Jean-Pierre Clement, particularly the reconstitution of a duck, stuffed with foie gras and cubed for cocktail servings.

The IACP's lectures and discussions are led by cookbook writer and restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune, Patricia Wells, along with Alexandre Lazareffof the Conseil National des Arts Culinaires.

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