The dishes were part of a long, sentimental menu celebrating the life and cooking of Roger Vergé (pronounced ro-JAY vair-JAY), the vastly influential pioneer of nouvelle cuisine, who died in 2015. He named his culinary philosophy "cuisine of the sun." Many chefs in attendance apprenticed at Vergé's storied restaurant in Provence, Le Moulin de Mougins, and at times the kitchen took on an air of a class reunion. "He was a knight," Mallmann told me. "The most gentle, happy cook I've ever met." The rotund, grinning Patrice Boely, a sous-chef at Le Moulin for more than 10 years, lately of Nashville, recalled a dinner he and his boss cooked in Zaire for the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Bouley related one of his mentor's favorite stories: Sometime in the late 1960s, Vergé gave his neighbor Pablo Picasso a lift to Avignon. While he drove, the chef complained about his creative struggles with a new menu; he wanted it to be perfect. "Who do you think you are?" Picasso interrupted. "Creativity only comes from making mistakes."