A sellout of 132 people - that's two "turns" of the sumptuously appointed room - dined at Le Bec-Fin last night, its finale under chef/founder Georges Perrier.
In addition, the downstairs bar hosted a private party of 20, followed by an evening of revelry attended by a who's who of Le Bec-Fin alumni.
Come Monday, renovations will begin as new owner Nicolas Fanucci takes over. Le Bec-Fin is expected to reopen this spring. (See article.)
In contrast to other recent Perrier appearances, the chef was ebullient, calling on people to give toasts in his honor while a New York Times photog snapped away. The Veuve flowed, and bottles of whiskey were passed around.
Robert Bennett of Classic Cake Co., who was Perrier's pastry chef for 14 years, called him "my father" and disclosed to Perrier that his famous marmalade recipe was actually Perrier's mother's.
Shola Olunloyo recalled how Perrier would visit chefs' stations. "Everyone had a moment when Chef came to you and said, 'This is wrong, wrong, wrong,' but would show you why it was wrong and how it could be made better."
Pastry chef Rocco Lugrine, who started with Perrier as a 17-year-old and worked for him for 10 years, said, "This is kind of where I grew up. Le Bec-Fin made me a better chef."
Also in the crowd were Kevin and Jesmary Sbraga (Sbraga), Chris Kearse (Pumpkin), Pierre Calmels and Ron Fougeray (Bibou), Peter Woolsey (Bistrot La Minette), Jessie Prawlucki and Lee Styer (Fond), Augusto Jalon (Augusto's), Josh McCullough (Time), Chip Roman (Blackfish, Mica, Ela), Jeff Power (Dettera), and Jeannine Mermet, who owned the Old City French destination, La Truffe.