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Close Encounters of the Celebrity Chef Kind #007, #008, #009

All this week, we're serving up your stories of celebrity chef encounters. These are the results of a Resy Contest we ran several weeks back, as you may recall. When possible, we'll reveal the chef's identity; in some cases, where providing details would likely lead to Eater playing the defendant in a massive pile of litigation, we'll just cull and post your best guesses. Of course, if you've got a story that's gone untold to date, talk to us.

7) Game 4, Yankees-Angels. My friend manages 3rd row seats behind the Angels' dugout. Who shows up in the first row after the game has started - Bobby Flay. This true Yankee fan was sporting a Mesa Grill hat, good call. Maybe he was hoping for camera time. I heckled him a few times during the game for sitting when the whole stadium was cheering and after Mo saves it in the ninth, I force him to give me a high five. He seemed scared.

8) It must have been 1995 – my then girlfriend (now wife – let’s call her C), and I were visiting New York (where we now live) from Vancouver … it was one of our first trips here and we were already so into food that our daily decisions of where to dine felt as weighty as a meetings of the UN Security Council. Our most memorable meal of the trip came when we ducked out of the rain to enjoy lunch at L’Ecole, the restaurant run by faculty and students of the French Culinary Institute. It was a lovely meal – I still remember I started with the onion soup, followed by a navarin of lamb and crème brulee for dessert – and we had only just begun our first course when HE entered the room. To us, he was a god among mortals, second only to the greatness of St. Julia of Child. Sitting down at a round table just next to ours was Jacques Pepin himself.

We trembled in awe. We snuck glances – not excessively, of course, certainly no more than once every 30 seconds or so. We tried to hear what he was saying about the Reblochon … Finally, we finished our lunch. Congratulating ourselves on how discrete we’d been we stood up to leave. I grabbed our coats – both black raincoats – off a chair at our table and as we passed by Jacques’ table, he stood, smiled at us, and reached out his hand … We dissolved … I was cool – if mundane - for the first moment or so, saying “It’s so great to meet you Mr. Pepin,” and “We really enjoy your program.” C was grinning and not making much sense: “Wow! … oh my god … your show is so …. You’re just so … you’re the greatest … Wow!” or words to that effect. I just tried to smile and be cool and not come across like a rube … I took over from Cathy trying to make small talk with Mr. Pepin as I put my coat on … “Yes, Mr. Pepin we enjoy making your pot au feu very much … Yes, we live in Vancouver but we’re able to watch your show on the PBS Station …” (struggling with my coat now) … “No we’re only here for a few days, but we’re glad we made it into Bouley before it closes …” (why can’t I get this coat over my shoulder? Jacques is looking a bit baffled by my wardrobe malfunction. I think C is trying to tell me something … ) …

“Yes, it’s our first time here at L’ecole but we’ll definitely be back … (Oh no. I’ve now got both arms into both sleeves but I can’t get the jacket up over my shoulders … then I realize what C’s been trying to tell me with her eyebrows – I’ve just straightjacketed myself into her coat. And she’s a great dealer smaller than me. I’m completely trapped, totally tied up, and Jacques looks like he might call security.) No graceful way out now. “It’s been so great chatting with you,” I say. I turn on the spot, arms still tied up behind me and we march purposefully toward the door, pausing only long enough for the very confused maitre d’ to open it for us.

9) Although he isn't much of a chef (blech) [lower sixth avenue chef] has on more than one occasion tried to grab my friend's boobs. I wonder if his girlfriend makes little cartoons of how much of a pig he is.
· Close Encounters of the Celebrity Chef Kind #005, #006 [~E~]
· Close Encounters of the Celebrity Chef Kind #004 [~E~]
· Close Encounters of the Celebrity Chef Kind #002, #003 [~E~]
· Close Encounters of the Celebrity Chef Kind #001 [~E~]

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