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GOURMANDISE

CLASSIC COOKBOOK

40 and counting

Some marriages don't get to celebrate a 40th anniversary, but lucky publishers do. One of the biggest publishing events of the holiday cookbook publishing season is the reissue of the first volume of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf, $40.) It's a handsome reprint of the book that shook America's culinary foundations way back in 1961. Child and her co-authors taught a meat-and-potatoes country the ins and outs of French cuisine. Everything from sauces to desserts was covered and the easy-to-follow recipes were so exhaustive and well-illustrated, they often took up several pages. And Child herself became such a celebrity with her subsequent television show that if you simply used the name "Julia," everyone knew who you were talking about (perhaps placing her in "Madonna" and "Cher" territory).

This may well be the ultimate holiday gift for your favorite foodie.

COOKIE CHIC

Calling Mr. Blackwell

We all know about the annual list of the best- and worst-dressed. Now a non-stick spray, Baker's Joy, is looking to expand the idea to baked goods. Take note of a recently announced contest seeking America's Best Dressed Gingerbread Person Cookie if you're a creative type.

There are big cash prizes awaiting.

"This is one contest where looks are everything," says Al DeChellis, vice president of Culver Specialty Brands. "We're looking for outrageous, unique or fashion-conscious decorated cookies." To enter, contestants must submit an unaltered photo of one gingerbread cookie measuring no more than 6 inches in length. Cookies should be dressed (with icing or sugar) in an appropriately fashionable manner and those with signs of repair will be disqualified. No glued-on legs or arms will be allowed.

To obtain rules by mail, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Best Dressed Rules, c/o the Londre Company 3365 Barham Blvd. LA, Calif. 90068 or log onto www.bestdressed.bigstep.com.

Hey, we have an idea - what about a gingerbread Julia Child, complete with apron??

TALENT SEARCH

Tailgaters' spotlight

Mark Sunday, Nov. 4, on your calendar, Bills fans. That's the date of the Indianapolis game and also the date that the official Jack Daniels' Tailgate Search crew will be cruising the tailgate area of the Ralph, seeking fans that demonstrate "great cooking ability. creativity and team spirit."

The crew travels in a bus and, if you want to be considered, you have to visit the bus to enter. Winning teams will be recognized with trophies and other prizes.

And, oh yes, at the end of the season, winning tailgaters from the cities whose teams make it to the Super Bowl will be invited to a big party in New Orleans. Oh, well.

Never mind that - go with food and drink to the Buffalo game and have fun anyway.

CONTEST INFORMATION

Newsletters for cooks

There are so many culinary contests these days, how can a competitive cook keep up? One way to stay in the loop is to log onto www.recipecontests.com.

Or you can subscribe to a newsletter:

- The Cooking Contest Newsletter, P.O. Box 339, Summerville, S.C. 29484. Joyce Campagna, editor.

- Cooking Contest Chronicle, P.O. Box 10792, Merrillville, Ind. 46411-0792. Karen Martis, editor.

Both newsletters offer 12 monthly issues for $19.95.

Quotable

"To La Belle France whose peasants, fishermen, housewives and princes - not to mention her chefs - through generations of inventive and loving concentration have created one of the world's great arts."

- The dedication to "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."