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Happy Birthday, Leah
Don't miss Saturday's free-admission book launch and early 80th birthday party for Leah Chase, scheduled from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the New Orleans Museum of Art (1 Collins Dieboll Circle). "You're born a female; you become a woman. You have to look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, and work like a dog." That's just a smidgen of the forthright advice you can glean from the final, eponymous chapter of Leah Chase: Listen, I Say Like This (Pelican, $23), a biography of Dooky Chase's proprietor-chef written by part-time New Orleans resident Carol Allen. In this final chapter, through a series of direct quotes, Allen allows her good friend to speak her mind on a variety of subjects -- politics, schools, community development, social justice, family and children -- none of which is the restaurant business. This curious omission resonates throughout the book as Allen puts to page the life's work of the city's most famous black female chef; the fact that Chase makes an inimitable Creole gumbo is a trifle, we learn, in comparison to the spiritual and moral impact she's had on her community and her family. Both women will be available to sign books.

New Arrival
Beaujolais Nouveau is a "new," 7- to 9-week-old wine made with Gamay grapes that's released annually on the third Thursday of November. These young wines are generally light in body and intensely colored with lots of fruity flavor and low tannins -- a combination that pairs well with heavy Thanksgiving Day feasts. Among this week's Beaujolais Nouveau-centric events is Thursday's Le Cirque Troubadour, to be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Le Meridien Hotel (614 Canal St.). Tickets are $65. Call 527-6708 or 527-6717. Then, the French-American Chamber of Commerce/Louisiana Chapter is holding its eighth annual Beaujolais Gala from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday at The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans (921 Canal St.). The evening's events include a silent auction to benefit the Chamber as well as WRBH 88.3 FM Radio for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Attendees will sample Beaujolais Nouveau cuvees bottled in honor of the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial. Call 670-2843 for tickets ($75), and 524-1331 for a special $175 room rate. Finally, Chateaubriand Steakhouse (310 N. Carrollton Ave., 207-0016) is offering a three-course dinner for $34.95 through the end of the month to complement Beaujolais Nouveau wines. Among others, they will pour two from a French winery owned by Chef Gerard Crozier's sister and brother-in-law.

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