PHILADELPHIA—More than 50 celebrity chefs from around the country gathered on Tuesday evening to help fight childhood cancer. The 7th Annual Great Chefs Event fundraiser, started by Philadelphia’s renowned chef Marc Vetri and business partner Jeff Benjamin, drew more than 1,200 foodies and raised more than $1 million to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Food Network Iron Chef America Jose Garces, Original Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Bravo TV Top Chef Tom Colicchio, Philadelphian and James Beard Award-winner Michael Solomonov, and renowned New York City restaurateur and chef Drew Nieporent were among the culinary luminaries sampling their dishes prepared in front of guests at the event.
Big crowds surrounded Iron Chef Jose Garces’s booth. Aside from the usual spices and award-winning culinary art, Iron Chef said he put “additional love” into this event, which he believes “is a great cause.” He added that the fundraiser gives people the taste of love.
Liz and Jay Scott, and others from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, said the food prepared by the chefs showed their deep care and support for the cause. Liz and Jay’s daughter Alexandra (Alex) started Alex’s Lemonade Stand during her fight against a neuroblastoma, which eventually took her life when she was 8 years old.
Mrs. Scott said that when Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin first approached her with the idea of doing a fundraising event with the nation’s top chefs, she didn’t expect it would become such a great event that is expanding across the United States.
“It’s an incredible event. The energy the chefs bring is amazing!” Mrs. Scott said. The event brings hope to families who strive to live Alex’s dream of finding a cure for childhood cancer.
Guests were treated to world-class food and wine tasting, music, and live and silent auctions. The live auction items included a 5-day, 4-night gastro-tour of Piedmont, Italy for six, with award-winning chefs Jeff Michaud and Marc Vetri. The item sold for $35,000.
Jeff Benjamin said the tickets (priced at $300 per person and VIP passes for $500 per person) were sold out three weeks prior to the event. “Chefs lending support is a big draw.”
When asked of the secret recipe for the success of this event, Marc Vetri said it’s very simple: Use the best ingredient—compassion—to bring out the natural flavors of everything. “You can live your life that way—everything is much nicer when it is simpler.”
Two guests from Kibow Biotech Inc. said the company has been a sponsor of the event for several years. “We not only like the food prepared by Marc Vetri, but also admire his philanthropic work.”
The event nurtures both stomach and mind. David Lipson, president of Philadelphia Magazine, a print sponsor of the event said, “I love this event. What [the chefs] do is something to behold. It is very inspiring.”
Compassion is the theme of the event. When asked what makes the food he prepared for the guests so good, Drew Nieporent of Tribeca Grill, who co-founded with legendary actor Robert De Niro, said it is the childhood memories. “We all have terrific mothers, and mothers are the ones who show us the nurturing and caring.”
With an all-star roster of investors behind Tribeca Grill, including Bill Murray, Sean Penn, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Tribeca Grill is one of New York’s landmark restaurants.
“The dedication, energy, and the selfless work given by the top chefs, volunteers, and sponsors make it an incredible event,” Jeff Benjamin said. The event has become the nation’s fundraising front-runner in the search for a cure against childhood cancer.
Mrs. Liz Scott took emotional moments to share the stories about her daughter Alex—a 4-year cancer patient and founder of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, for which Mrs. Scott serves as co-executive director with her husband, Jay.
Alex is the inspiration behind countless lemonade stands that have been set up throughout America to raise funds for finding a childhood cancer cure. The Alex Lemonade Foundation has evolved into a national fundraising movement, with thousands of volunteers across the country carrying on her legacy of hope. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised more than $50 million toward fulfilling Alex’s dream of finding a cure, funding over 200 research projects nationally.
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