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Top Chefs Convene in New York, Party

The well behaved: Toronto's Susur Lee, Madrid's Sergi Arola, and New York's Wylie Dufresne.Photo: Melissa Hom

We learned a lot hanging out at the StarChefs.com congress. The conference, which convened some of the most famous cooks from the four corners of the earth on Tuesday and Wednesday, cost an arm and a leg to get into — $850 for a two-day "industry pass" — but it was worth it.

Where else could you hear talks like these?

• Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert's "The Makings of a Four-Star Restaurant"

• Offal king Fergus Henderson's "Guts and Glory"

• "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto's "Hot, Live and Raw" (on how to vivisect an octopus)

• Legendary El Bulli pastry chef Albert Adria's "Nature as Inspiration"

Still, these amazing talks all paled in comparison to Tuesday's after-parties. At Hotel QT and B.E.D., chefs got rip-roaring drunk, loudly spouting off about their rivals, critics, and favorite recipes, their eyes glazed, hands wildly gesticulating. One world-famous European chef tried to force his hotel-room keycard on a friendly but conspicuously married woman who appeared to be half his age. Not five minutes later, an equally unctous European executive chef of a major New York restaurant told the very same woman, "Your hand zez you are ma-reed, but your eyez say you are naught." Come on, Chef! That line went out with noodles Romanoff.

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