We’ve had two incredibly successful culinary events in the past two months raising more than $650,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in the fight against childhood cancer. What’s pretty amazing about these events is that they are truly chef-driven. Although our event staff provides a great deal of support, the group of elite chefs who participate are the ones who have been inspired by Alex’s story and taken it upon themselves to create the fundraiser. Two of the participating chefs, Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster, Marc Burger, C-House) and Hedy Goldsmith (Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink), were kind enough to blog about their experience at the recent events (Lemon: NYC and L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade) giving an inside perspective on the wonderful food, collegial spirit, challenging weather and most importantly, the fabulous cause.
Marcus Samuelsson (Lemon: NYC)
Who would’ve thought that a child’s simple lemonade stand could someday become a huge powerhouse nonprofit that raises millions of dollars a year for the sole purpose of cancer research and treatment? Well that’s exactly what Alexandra Scott was able to achieve as her dying wish through her idea for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is a cancer charity that has raised more than $50 million, funding more than 200 cutting-edge research projects, created a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment and developed resources to help people everywhere affected by childhood cancer.
Last week, I had the honor of participating in a fundraising dinner for Alex’s Lemonade Stand (Lemon: NYC), with 30 or so of my chef colleagues. The event space was donated by Chef Jonathan Waxman and the organization invited 30 renowned chefs to share their dishes with donors to this great cause. I cooked that night alongside great names like Tom Colicchio, Alex Guarnaschelli, Franklin Becker, Bill Telepan, Jonathan Waxman, Tim Love and Tony Mantuano. Each chef had a table of 10 guests to whom they served a unique menu of the chef’s own creation.
Not only will I always remember this event for its great cause and the amazing talents all in one place, but also the design of the event that was unlike any other tasting I’ve previously attended. At this dinner, we had the opportunity to actually cook our food and put together a 3 to 4 course dinner while the guests looked on around the room. At most tastings, there is very little cooking and a lot of greeting and picture taking. At this great dinner, we were able to really focus on the food and then interacted with individual guests at our tables when we presented our dishes. My menu consisted of a Gravlax Poke with Purple Mustard, Jerk Bacon over Cowpeas served with seared Octopus, Coffee-cured Duck with a Foie Gras Terrine and a Watercress salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette. Finally for dessert we served Sweet Potato Donuts. The food was followed by a beautiful ballet performance of The Nutcracker and a live auction.
I had a great time seeing all my colleagues and definitely helping out such a great cause that helps hundreds of children with cancer each year.
Hedy Goldsmith (L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade)
I had the pleasure of being invited to participate in my first Alex's Lemonade Stand chef event in November. It was Suzanne Goin's L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade shindig, and wow what an experience for my first. Truly unforgettable in so many ways... let's begin with the rain! So it's 8 o’clock in the morning on Sunday, November 6 when we arrive to the tents and the weather is horrendous. The mud was up to our knees.... mud and muck! Jen Davidson from camp Barbuto was wearing flip flops – our honorary Miamian. No one was prepared. From fabulous hunter boots to flip flops and everything else in between, and we of course brought the Chuck Taylor sneaker contingent. It was freezing cold and I was worried that people wouldn’t come to the event. My assistant Trew Sterling and I were on the edge of two connecting tents and I kept telling Trew to layer more cardboard down. Trew along with everyone else would go raid all the boxes from people unloading liquor. We'd break them down, pad the ground, and have to go get more in a matter of minutes. We just kept sinking down! Picture an elegant party, like the most beautiful one you can imagine, then add cardboard, water and mud. I say this right now and it all sounds rather dramatic, but the fact is that, well, no one really cared - what were we going to do? Then a miracle happened. At 11:00 am, when guests were to begin arriving, it became picture perfect. The Scott family got on stage and started with the speeches and it was amazing – pretty spectacular. From the pre-party at Nancy's (Nancy Silverton) to the post party at The Hungry Cat in Santa Monica with David (David Lentz) putting out such a beautiful spread with fresh seafood and spicy steamed shrimp and cocktails, spicy chicken wings and fun bar food; it was so sweet and gracious – like the wet morning never happened. The party went very late and all of us on the Genuine team finished at In-N-Out Burger. I'm now hooked on Alex's and can't wait for my next event!