Damn the Reviews, Ducasse Can Party

February 6, 2001, 12:00 AM EST

Party for Alain Ducasse's book Alain Ducasse at the Essex House Thursday, 11.02.00, 6 PM to 8:30 PM
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Alain Ducasse has been fried, flamb?ed and fricasseed by New York restaurant critics. But that didn't stop a bouillabaisse of chefs and foodies from storming his high-priced restaurant, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, on the day after William Grimes gave him a three-star review in The New York Times.

Ducasse was shilling his book, Harvesting Excellence (Assouline), but you can bet the guests came for the exquisitely prepared food. (They even got a specially printed menu on the way out.) Between bites of foie gras, we spotted chefs Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert (of Le Bernardin), Alain Sailhac (Le Cirque's original chef, now at the French Culinary Institute), Andr? Soltner (formerly of Lut?ce) and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Other guests included Lee Radziwill, Tim Zagat, fashionable caterer Serena Bass, Daniel's Georgette Farkas, the Four Seasons' Julian Niccolini, the Lenox Room's Tony Fortuna, Vogue's Jeffrey Steingarten and Susan Magrino, whose firm, Susan Magrino Agency, organized the party.

We also bumped into Martha Stewart (another Magrino client) as the restaurant's chef, Didier Elena, gave us a tour of the kitchen. He showed us what may be the most exclusive party room in Manhattan--the chef's table, just off the kitchen. Only friends or people who drop an exceptional amount of cash in the main dining room (which is already the priciest in New York) are invited to eat in this room, which seats eight. Stewart told us she had eaten there. A little less pricey is the restaurant's private reception room, which seats six to 12 guests.

--Chad Kaydo

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