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Merci Bocuse--Cooking God to Grace O.C.

October 13, 1994|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County. Information for this column can be faxed to (714) 966-7790, or write: Newsbites/OC Live!, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. and

Legendary. Super-chef. Cooking god. These are adjectives routinely used to describe Paul Bocuse--even when one tries to keep hyperbole to a minimum.

Facts are facts. Bocuse was responsible for nouvelle cuisine. His three-star restaurant near Lyon is world renowned. In 1961 he was named Meilleur Ouvrier de France as best chef in the country, and in 1975 he became the first chef to be awarded the Legion of Honor.

And this week marks the great one's first official visit to Orange County.

So excuse the Four Seasons Hotel if it goes slightly over the top and bills Tuesday's dinner in its Pavilion restaurant "the culinary event of the century."

According to news releases, executive chef (suddenly sounds humble, doesn't it?) Michel Pieton would "assist" Bocuse with preparation of such dishes as pheasant consomme with wild mushrooms and lentils, and roasted veal chop "Orloff" with goose liver and truffle. But Pieton admitted that's not exactly true.

"At 69, Bocuse is no longer sweating at the stove like we do," Pieton said. "But he's with us advising and tasting, making sure the sauce is right."

The five-course meal, from soup to sabayon, costs $150 per person, which includes tax, gratuity and a signed copy of Bocuse's new book, "Bocuse's Regional French Cooking," for every couple. A Champagne reception will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Champagne Mumm will figure at that and other events this week, as will Mumm Cuvee Napa and Sterling Vineyards. Bocuse is spokesman for Mumm; all three are owned by Seagram Classics Wine Co.

Monday at Pascal Epicerie, chef Pascal Olhats hosts a Champagne reception and Bocuse cook book signing. The event starts at 6 p.m.; the cost is $15, and hors d'oeuvres will be served. (The book costs $17.98.)

Also Monday, in a sold-out event at 7:30 p.m., Olhats will prepare a four-course Mumm dinner at Pascal Restaurant.

Bocuse departs Wednesday for Los Angeles, but the wines of Seagram will stay, most notably at a four-course dinner featuring Sterling Vineyards at John Dominis. Chef Lasse Sorensen has paired Sterling's '92 Winery Lake Chardonnay, for instance, with Maine lobster cakes served on spicy California cole slaw and remoulade.

The cost is $60 per person including tax and gratuity. An hors d'oeuvres reception begins at 7 p.m.

John Dominis, 2901 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach. (714) 650-5112.

Pascal Restaurant and Epicerie, 1000 N. Bristol St., Newport Beach. (714) 752-0107.

Pavilion, Four Seasons Hotel, 690 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach. (714) 759-0808.

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