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October 13, 1994|CHARLES PERRY

Boot Camp for Chefs

French chef Madeleine Kamman's legendary School for American Chefs, held at the Beringer Vineyards in Napa Valley, is inviting young chefs to submit applications for a two-week intensive course in topics ranging from the business of running a restaurant to food science and history. Admission is by scholarship only (students pay for their own transportation and lodging).

Applicants must be working chefs with at least two years of professional experience. The deadline for applications is Nov. 15. For application information, call Debra Murphy at (707) 963-7115.

The First Dry Soda

In the 1860s, when people were just becoming aware of microorganisms, a Harvard science professor named Eben Horsford warned that yeast was related to poisonous molds--as if that made it poison too--and recommended that people make bread with a baking powder consisting of sodium bicarbonate and monocalcium phosphate ("pulverulent phosphoric acid") . . . which he just happened to manufacture. So maybe he was sort of a crank, but in marketing his product at least he did come up with the process that keeps baking soda from absorbing moisture in the can.

Boil All Ferns!

About 30 diners at a restaurant in Steuben Co., New York, ate an appetizer of fiddlehead fern, a traditional Canadian seasonal delicacy, and later complained of diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The fiddleheads had been lightly sauteed for two minutes with butter, garlic, salt and pepper; a nearby restaurant that served ferns boiled and then sauteed reported no illness among its patrons.

The Food and Drug Administration is attempting to isolate the toxin. The Centers for Disease Control recommends boiling fiddleheads at least 10 minutes before eating.

How to Pop Your Lid

Rubbermaid's Servin' Saver EZ Topps Rounds is sort of a mouthful, but the name is worth knowing for people who have trouble opening regular refrigerator containers . . . or just want to protect their fingernails. The lids have an extended vertical tab, which can be opened by pressing with the side of one hand; all but the smallest size--there are eight, from 7-ounce to 1.4-quart--can also be popped open by pressing it against a countertop. They're freezer- and dishwasher-safe and microwaveable (remove the lid first). In stores such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target.

Hey, Whatever's Green

"Entertaining With Regis and Kathie Lee" by Regis Philbin & Kathie Lee Gifford (Hyperion; 272 pages), published today, is a followup to "Cooking With Regis and Kathie Lee" that concentrates on holiday and party meals. The TV duo offer a lot of entertaining ideas here, but some are on the strange side. For St. Patrick's day they suggest giving all your guests a temporary Irish name ("Mr. O'Steinberg" or "Mrs. O'Capparelle") while playing a Sinead O'Connor CD and serving either Irish stew or Italian gnocchi all'ortolana , followed by Kermit the Frog's shoo-fly pie. In bookstores.

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