by Georgette Farkas

Serves 6-8

The long, slow roasting emphasizes the squash’s natural sweetness, which then gets a touch of umami with the unexpected addition of miso. This silky smooth puree is a wonderful accompaniment to roast chicken or duck or would serve beautifully at the center of a plate of roasted winter vegetables. You could also use it as the base for a plate of gnocchi, or fold it into farrotto or risotto.



  • 1 whole butternut squash, halved and seeded*
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp white miso, or to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Split squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds**. Rub cut surface with garlic, season with black pepper and sprinkle generously with olive oil. Line baking pan with parchment or foil. Place squash in lined pan cut side down and roast for approximately two hours, until extremely soft.
  • Using a spoon, scoop squash from the skin and place in food processor with butter. Process until extremely smooth. Add miso to puree a little bit at a time until you’ve achieved desired flavor. The miso should not dominate, but rather add a depth of flavor.

*An average butternut squash weighs about 2 ½ to 3 lbs. and amounts to approximately 3 cups of cooked puree.

** I often reserve the seeds, remove any large pieces of pulp, toss the seeds with salt and chili flakes and some olive oil and roast until golden brown. While the hulls can be a bit tough, the roasted seeds make for a tasty snack that I devour while preparing dinner.

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by Georgette Farkas

Serves 8

This tender braised red cabbage is the perfect accompaniment to duck or pork or just about any kind of sausages. I have even spread it on a ham sandwich on toasted rye bread.  Be sure to use unsweetened cranberry juice, not cranberry “cocktail” or the result will be far too sweet. This is a  great make-ahead winter side dish and can be stored refrigerated for several days.



  • 4 cardamom pods, finely ground
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, finely ground
  • ½ cup honey
  • 4 cups unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 4 oz bacon sliced and cut in 1“ pieces
  • 2 medium white onions, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 head red cabbage, quartered, cored, thinly sliced
  • 1 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • In a small saucepan, over low heat, bring honey to a boil. Add ground cardamom and coriander and cranberry juice. Simmer until reduced by about half.
  • In a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon until translucent, about five minutes. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally another five minutes. Add cabbage and apple and cook stirring until softened, an additional 15 minutes. Add reduced cranberry juice and spice mixture and toss to coat. Cover and transfer to oven
  • Braise approximately two hours until cabbage is tender.

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by Georgette Farkas

Serves 6

This is really just a very grown-up version of a rich and very dark chocolate pudding. Make it your own with more or less bourbon and espresso, or leave these out entirely if you prefer. If you like your chocolate a little less bitter, reduce the quantity of unsweetened chocolate from five to four ounces. Bake in just about any small oven proof porcelain or glass cup, from espresso or tea cups or coffee mugs to classic souffle ramekins. While you may need only two portions for Valentine’s Day dinner, you won’t regret making the whole recipe to carry you through Valentine’s week.



  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tbs sugar
  • ¼ cup espresso (or ½ tsp granulated instant espresso)
  • 1 Tbs bourbon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup whipped cream as garnish
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • In a saucepan over low heat, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, espresso, bourbon and salt. Whisking constantly, slowly pour warm chocolate mixture into yolks.
  • Divide mixture among espresso cups or small ramekins, filling each about two thirds of the way, so as to leave room for whipped cream garnish later. Place in a roasting pan on center rack of oven. Add hot water to pan so that it reaches halfway up sides of cups. Cover with foil and use a fork to prick holes in foil.
  • Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until edges are lightly set but center is still runny. Baking time will vary according to cup size. Mixture will continue to set as it cools. Remove cups from roasting pan and let cool approximately 30 minutes, then refrigerate.
  • The dessert is best enjoyed room temperature, not ice cold. Remove from refrigerator about one hour prior to serving. Top with whipped cream or serve whipped cream on the side.

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By Georgette Farkas

Georgette Farkas is officially our Culinary Ambassador at Great Performances, but we’ve also crowned her our Hospitality Maven. Drawing upon her experiences working at leading restaurants and spearheading her eponymous Rotisserie Georgette, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. In addition to everything she does at GP across all teams, she also regularly entertains at home, creating incredible dishes that have that extra special touch that makes the food even more memorable and delicious.

In this series, Georgette shares tips from the caterer’s tool kit to make entertaining at home (almost) effortless. From time saving shortcuts and grocery store secrets to garnishing hacks and presentation magic, she’ll help you host a party that’ll make your guests feel extra special and that you’ll actually be able to enjoy.

She’s also curated recipes for you, highlighting the tips she’s shared. Each month look for dishes and ideas that would be delicious on their own, but that together make up menus that will have you entertaining like a pro.

A Caterer's Tips for Entertaining: Celebrating Valentine's Day

As a longtime restaurateur, I have a special relationship with Valentine’s Day. Expectations are typically high, and more than any other, this holiday made me feel particularly responsible for my restaurant guests’ happiness. I don’t mind admitting that these days I embrace the joy of preparing Valentine’s Day dinner at home for my better half.

I begin the menu with a winter salad, all prepared in advance. This light, fresh and bright dish is an ideal lead in to the substantial main course.  Chocolate is a must for your Valentine’s Day dessert, and my pot de crème is as rich, dark and decadent as it is easy to prepare. And yes, it can be made a day ahead.

Cooking for someone I love means preparing a dish I love, and duck confit is at the top of my list of winter favorites. You might think it ambitious, but it’s one of those recipe that is far easier than its reputation suggests. I offset the duck’s richness with the acidity of cranberry braised red cabbage. While mashed potatoes would be a classic pairing, here I suggest a butternut squash puree. My trick is adding miso, lending umami to the butternut’s natural sweetness.

The duck and sides dishes meet my cardinal rule of choosing only make ahead recipes for home entertaining, even when only for two people. Both side dish recipes serve more than two, as I believe this is the most efficient way to cook, making the preparation time and effort worthwhile. The balance can be frozen for future use or enjoyed over the next several days.

Valentine’s Day Menu

Crisp Winter Salad, Spicy Lime Vinaigrette


Duck Confit

Cranberry Braised Red Cabbage

Butternut Squash – Miso Purée


Chocolate Pot de Crème

Three Ways to Think Like a Caterer

  1. Consider Contrast. Explore ways to incorporate contrasts in flavor, texture, color and even shape. This makes for menus that delight the eye as much as the palate. That said, avoid adding ingredients solely for aesthetic purposes. Everything on the plate should contribute to a dish’s flavor or texture.
  2. Shop Strategically. Don’t hesitate to incorporate “purchased” items to finish a dish, cutting back on your time in the kitchen, not to mention the number of ingredients and storage space. We want to make your home entertaining a pleasure.
  3. Create Kits. Caterers prepare each dish as a “kit” of components that can be prepared ahead and even assembled or plated in advance. This approach can facilitate your home entertaining, leaving as few steps as possible to complete just before serving.

Valentine's Day Recipes

Crisp Winter Salad, Spicy Lime Vinaigrette Recipe

This is intended as a salad with no lettuce. Instead, assemble a variety of crisp vegetables with contrasting flavors, textures and colors. At this time of year, I use cucumber, fennel and carrot, both cut in thin ribbons, celery and radish very thinly sliced, especially if you can find the colorful purple or “watermelon” varieties. Definitely include the celery leaves. For added crunch, garnish the salad with toasted sunflower or sesame seeds or some coarsely chopped roasted peanuts.

The dressing recipe is inspired by chef Shi Lin Wong, who recently completed her James Beard Fellowship. We worked with Shi Lin here at Great Performances on her Beard Box, a meal kit shipped nationwide. Shi Lin’s menu reflects her Malaysian heritage. I fell in love with her Spicy Lime dressing and have made it my winter salad go-to. Adapt the proportions to your own taste and also the potency and saltiness of the fish sauce you use. I always make more dressing than I need for any one meal and then store it in a jar for future use.

Spicy Lime Vinaigrette Recipe


  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp birds eye chili or fresno chili, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup sesame oil


Combine all ingredients except the sesame oil and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk in the sesame oil. Strain out the chili pepper.

Applying Our Tips

Consider Contrast.

Contrast in flavors, textures, shapes and colors are the trick to creating a salad that’s particularly enticing. A variety of crisp vegetables brings texture and color this dish. The dressing is a balanced combination of savory, tangy, sweet, and spicy and enhances the vegetables beautifully.

Shop Strategically.

Purchase sunflower seed or peanuts pre-roasted.

Make Ahead.

Clean, slice and dice vegetables early in the day. Refrigerate covered with a damp cloth. Fennel, radish and carrots can be cut a day ahead and stored refrigerated in water. Make sure to drain well and towel dry before tossing in the salad.

Pro Tip.

Always make more dressing than you need for a single salad. Store it in a jar so you’ll have it to turn to all week long.

Duck Confit

Get the recipe for cranberry braised red cabbage here

Get the recipe for pureed butternut squash with miso here

This dish is a favorite for a variety of reasons. It ticks the box for a fancy meal that you can enjoy at home, but one that’s not especially complicated. Everything can be made ahead of time and warmed up, giving you plenty of time to relax before enjoying the feast.

Should you decide to take on duck confit, here are the basic steps, rather than a formal recipe.


  • Duck legs (with thigh)
  • Dry salt brine (kosher salt, crushed juniper, coarsely ground pepper)
  • Garlic
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh ginger
  • Crushed juniper berries
  • Black peppercorns
  • Duck fat


Prick skin side of duck legs with a knife point. Prepare a dry salt brine with kosher salt, crushed juniper and coarsely ground pepper. Cover skin side of duck with a thin coat of salt mixture, refrigerate overnight and then brush off salt mixture the following day. Place duck legs skin side down in a single layer in a heavy roasting pan or dutch oven, along with several cloves of peeled garlic, a few bay leaves, a few chunks of fresh ginger, crushed juniper berries and black pepper corns. Cook at 250° approximately one hour, until duck has rendered enough of its own fat to cover the meat. Increase oven temperature to 300. Turn legs over and continue to cook skin side up until the meat is extremely tender and leg and thigh bone are easily pulled apart. Total cooking time, four to five hours. You really can’t overdo it. Let legs cool to room temperature in their rendered fat and then refrigerate. Reserve excess rendered duck fat separately in jars and refrigerate for future use to cook potatoes and more. Remove cooked duck legs from refrigerator an hour before reheating. Reheat gently at 300° for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Just before serving, place under broiler for just a few minutes to crisp the skin.

Applying Our Tips

Shop Strategically. Despite the simplicity, given the time it takes to prepare duck confit (including salting overnight and very slow roasting for four hours or more), purchasing ready made is a great option.  My preferred online sources are Dartagnan and Hudson Valley Foie Gras.

Make Ahead. Every component of this main course can be made several days ahead and will, in fact, benefit from the advance preparation. They also have the advantage of being cooked in the oven, as opposed to on the stove top, meaning they call for little or no intervention during the cooking time. All should also be heated for serving in the oven, which again, means less stove top maneuvering at dinner time.

Pro Tips

  • If preparing these recipes several days ahead, which I highly recommend, be sure to chill food to room temperature before sealing and refrigerating.
  • Warming these dishes in the oven, instead of on the stove top, will make for controlled, even heating and minimizes the risk of burning.
  • Use of a trick from the caterer’ tool kit by using a pastry bag to plate the butternut puree. It makes for a fun and clean lined geometric effect. If using a pastry bag, you can warm the butternut puree filled bag in the microwave just before heating.
  • Please, please, please serve the main course on warmed dinner plates!

Bittersweet Chocolate Pot de Crème

Get the recipe for the bittersweet chocolate pot de crème here

Make Ahead. Pots de crème can be made several days ahead. Be sure to cool to room temperature and wrap well Wrap well before refrigerating.  

Shop Strategically. Almost every dish benefits from a crunchy garnish as a finishing touch. In this case, store bought chocolate wafers, coarsely crumbled over the whipped cream will do the trick. By all means, succumb to decorating candy or chocolate hearts to add a festive note.

Pro Tips

  • Use the very best quality chocolate you can find, for example, Valrhona or Callebaut.
  • Be sure to remove pots de creme from refrigerator at least two hours before serving. The chocolate flavor shines much more brightly and the texture will be much silkier when not ice cold.
  • When garnishing with whipped cream, a rough dollop will do just fine, but smooth quenelles will elevate your game.


Even at home and off the clock, food is love for us at Great Performances. Love Happens Around Food®

Some of our colleagues have shared the food and drink that have become part of their Valentine’s Day traditions.

For more inspiration, check out this menu created by Georgette Farkas!


The gift of time — and a heart-healthy meal

Emilia Sochovka, MS, RDN, CPT, Embrace Wellness

The most precious gift is time. For Valentine’s Day, I plan to make my husband a heart-healthy meal with hummus made from dried chickpeas, which can feel labor intensive but is so worth it. I do not use an exact recipe but here’s the gist. Soak dried chickpeas in a lot of water overnight (expect they will triple in size once cooked). Drain the chickpeas and boil them in fresh water until they are tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the chickpea skins by rubbing them with sturdy paper towels. Blend chickpeas in a food processor with tahini, lemon juice and salt. While blending the ingredients, drizzle in very cold water until the hummus reaches desired consistency. As recommended by chef and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi, don’t skip this step – the cold water transforms the hummus so it’s extra creamy. Taste until it’s just right! Serve hummus with sautéed mushrooms, a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of paprika, plus whole wheat pita and a salad on the side. 

Easy and meaty followed by something sweet

Patrice Marrett, Venue Chef

For loved ones, if I am cooking, I like to make something easy and meaty and something sweet. Ribeye Steak, herb mash potato, with a lovely herb compound butter is easy and to the point. For sweet, I stick to my go-to olive oil cake with a lofty dollop of homemade whip cream and fresh strawberries. And don’t forget the vino!

Valentine’s Day Martini

Tim Berryman, Director of Event Services

I make a Valentine’s Day Martini for my partner – highly recommended!

  • 1oz Vodka
  • 1oz Chambord
  • 1oz Grand Marnier
  • 1oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1 dash of bitters (berry if you have them!)

Shake and serve up.

Oysters and Martinis

Lauren Bivona

There’s true romance in a dinner date, on any day of the year. We choose the place, we choose the meal, and we choose the person sitting across the table from us to share it with. There’s incredible intimacy in an experience like that, especially when you’re both enthusiastic about the food. 

On Valentine’s Day, my girlfriend and I always stick with a dinner date that involves things we both love. Thankfully, our food tastes and curiosity to try new things align across the board, otherwise there would be no hope for a relationship (just kidding). We do not have an official yearly tradition, but one example of a perfect meal together definitely includes fresh oysters and some proper martinis. So simple, as many of the best things in life are, and so intensely satisfying when done right. It’s like everything majestic about the ocean, crammed into this tiny delicious bite. Pairing these beauties with a classic cocktail, like a martini, really enhances the experience. And most importantly, sharing a meal like this with somebody who loves it in the same way, is the recipe for a perfect night.


By Great Performances

Love Happens Around Food®

We truly believe that food is a common element that brings people together; and that eating with others is more than just consuming nutrients. We’re breaking bread – to share with others. It implies so much: trust, comfort, confidence, and love. Sharing food is an act of love for us at Great Performance. From carefully planning menus and selecting ingredients that meet our high standards of quality and sustainability to presenting the food with care, attention, and our unparalleled service, it’s what we do. Although food may not be the central character of the events we cater and host, it’s a critical element and its absence would be quickly noted.


Food is at the center for all of our celebrations, and from romantic dinners and weddings to family feasts and holidays, we see the connection between Love and Food. For Valentine’s Day, Georgette Farkas curated a delicious menu for two. The beauty of the menu is that everything can be prepared in advance and finished before serving. And although this is a menu for two, we’ve made sure that there’s enough for leftovers later in the week.

First Course: Mae Mae’s Beetroot Borscht

Start your Valentine’s Day feast with Mae Mae’s Beetroot Borscht. The beautiful red of the soup immediately makes you think of love and romance. Although we traditionally served the soup chunky, you could puree it for a smoother texture. Create a heart-shaped garnish by adding a few round dollops of sour cream then running a knife through it in one direction.

Main Course: Valentine’s Mushroom Fricassee

Warm, comforting — and seductive! Buttery, crisp puff pastry garnishes the umami-rich mushroom and spinach filling of our Valentine’s Mushroom Fricassee. We’ve created a more “deconstructed” version so you don’t have to purchase any special dishes. (And we always recommend adding a few extra puff pastry hearts on the side as an extra treat.)

Dessert: Bittersweet Chocolate Pot de Crème

We can’t help but go for the classic Valentine’s Day dessert flavor, chocolate, with our Bittersweet Chocolate Pot de Crème. The bittersweet chocolate helps counter some of the sweetness, and a splash of bourbon adds some extra warmth and depth. This dessert is as sensual as it is sensational – definitely worth the effort.


by Great Performances

We’ve got a soft spot for beets at Great Performances. We grow them at Katchkie Farm, our organic farm in upstate New York, and often featured them on the menu at our own Mae Mae Cafe. From our signature beet chips to our fan favorite beet burger, we celebrate the beet. Here we’re sharing a delicious beetroot borscht – that we served throughout the colder months at Mae Mae and especially around Valentine’s Day.



  • 1 lb raw beets, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 L vegetable stock + additional water if required
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sour cream, horseradish and dill to serve
  • Gently fry the finely chopped onion, garlic, celery and garlic in the grapeseed oil over a very low heat until soft and aromatic.
  • Add the chopped beets. Cover with stock and add extra water if required until you have 4cm above the level of the beetroot.
  • Add a bay leaf and leave to simmer with a lid semi-covering until the beetroot is soft, around 45 minutes.
  • Puree the soup then allow to simmer for another 10-15 minutes to thicken and concentrate the flavors.  Season with fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper before serving. Top with horseradish, sour cream and fresh dill.

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by Georgette Farkas

In my traditional French culinary past I would have made a “vol-au-vent” a flaky puff pastry cup filled with sautéed mushrooms. Mushroom pot pie would be the rustic version. For this one skillet recipe, with a lighter touch and valentine’s day in mind, I’m simply topping my mushroom fricassee with puff pastry hearts. The celery root adds body and flavor. The fricassee can be prepared a day ahead, just up to the point before adding the spinach. While you may be cooking for only two on Valentine’s Day, you won’t regret having extra portions on hand as a side dish in the days that follow.



  • 4 oz. puff pastry, (enough to cut four hearts, each approx. 3” wide x 4” long
  • 1 small egg, beaten with 1 tsp water
  • ½ cup shallots, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 12 oz white mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 oz oyster mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms), pulled in strips
  • ¾ cup (.75 oz.) dried morels soaked until softened (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 cup celery root, peeled and cut in ¼ cubes
  • 2 Tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 oz fresh spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cut heart shapes from puff pastry using a cookie cutter or simply cutting free form with a paring knife. I prefer the latter. Brush hearts with the egg wash and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking. Place on non-stick baking sheet or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 375 for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Keep warm or re-heat when ready to serve.
  • In a skillet over low heat, melt butter, add shallots and cook stirring until soft and translucent. Increase heat to medium and add garlic, mushrooms, celery root and dried tarragon. Cook tossing occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes. Add white wine and cook stirring until mostly evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cream and cook stirring a few minutes until the cream is thickened and reduced by about half.
  • Just before serving, add spinach, tossing only a minute or two, just until it wilts into the mushroom fricassee, but maintains its bright green color. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add a drop of water, only if the mixture has become too thick.
  • Spoon fricassee onto warm plates, top each serving with a warm puff pastry heart and serve immediately.


Puff Pastry is readily available frozen in grocery stores. In a pinch substitute a slice of bread, anything from simple white bread to brioche to multi-grain or even gluten-free. Cut out heart shapes, approx. 3” wide x 4”, butter and toast just before serving.

Mushrooms Use any combination of plain white mushrooms and wild mushrooms, such as oyster, shiitake or other. Substitute dried morels with dried mushroom, such as porcini or shiitake, or use only fresh mushrooms.

Pro Tip

Add a teaspoon of dried porcini powder when sautéing the mushrooms.

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By Afiya Witter


Enjoy Valentine’s Day by sipping this classic cocktail dressed up for the occasion!



  • 2 oz gin

  • 1-3 lime wedges

  • 3 dashes bitters

  • 3-4 oz tonic water

  1. Add gin and bitters to a glass filled with ice.

  2. Squeeze in lime wedges to taste, adding one to the rim of the glass.

  3. Add tonic water and stir gently to combine.

  4. Enjoy!

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By Chef Geoff Rudaw

Nothing says “I love you” like taking a risk, dabbling in the unknown, and trying something new. Crème Caramel is a dish that can be made with easily available items, and once mastered, it can be simple to make while coming across as a skilled and difficult dish to produce. For a little color, add some pomegranate seeds (optional).

Serves 10-12 portions



  • 1 cup sugar

  • ½ cup water

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

  • 3 cups cream

  • 1¼ cups milk

  • 1 cup maple syrup

  • 7 egg yolks

  • 2 whole eggs

  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

  • Heat sugar, water and lemon juice in a pot until a dark amber color. Pour into 4 ounce aluminum cups or ramekins that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

  • Heat cream and milk until hot.

  • Combine maple syrup, egg yolks and whole eggs and whisk well.

  • Temper the egg mixture by adding a few ounces of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture while whisking.

  • Continue to add a few more ounces of the hot milk mixture, constantly whisking, until the egg mixture warms up. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the hot milk mixture and whisk. Strain to ensure a silky texture, then cool in an ice bath.

  • Divide the cooled custard mixture into the cups or ramekins (about halfway up the side).

  • Gently put the cups into a deep baking dish (at least 2” deep) and pour cool water around the cups. Cover with aluminum foil.

  • Bake at 300˚F for 50-55 minutes until the custard jiggles slightly.

  • Cool, remove from pan and chill overnight.

  • Once chilled, loosen edges by gently inserting a pairing knife and carefully sliding it around aluminum cup. Invert onto plate.

  • Pomegranate seeds can be sprinkled on top and around plate, if desired.

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