|Marc Vetri and me|
On the third day of my two-week internship with ALSF, Sheryl, the Special Events Manager, took me to a restaurant in Philadelphia. This wasn't just for fun, though; we were there on business. A planning meeting was being held by Marc Vetri, Jeff Benjamin and Jeff Michaud, for their Great Chefs Event benefiting Alex's and the Vetri Foundation for Children, and I had been asked to attend. The Great Chefs Event features celebrated chefs from all over the U.S., coming together and offering up small tastes of their delicious cooking to guests, who also get the chance to bid on auction prizes. It's an amazing opportunity to see so many talented people all together, and you get to try food from all of them! While driving to this planning meeting, Sheryl asked me if I would mind saying a few words about myself when we got there. She was talking to the right girl; I'm always happy to share my story to people who are there to help. I told them about my cancer journey and what led me to ALSF, and everyone was incredibly nice and supportive. I was so glad I got that chance to speak and be there. Not only did I get to meet famous chefs; I also got to meet kindhearted, caring people, who were happy for the break in all their hectic planning to be reminded of why they were even holding this event at all.
|Chef Franklin Becker at his station |
check out his colleague behind him -
everyone was having fun!
On the day of the event, my cousin and I braved the rain to take trains from NYC (for her) and from NJ (for me) to wind up at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where the event was being held. I had never been there before, so already it was an adventure for me! Immediately upon stepping inside, it felt special; the cavernous warehouse had been transformed into a culinary heaven. Lines of tables against the walls offered you champagne and cookies; to the left were all the descriptions of activities and items you could bid on. A few more steps brought you to the beginning of the yellow signs in front of individual tables, announcing the chef who occupied each one, and the food that they were serving. A few steps more, and you were in the biggest room yet, where row upon row of yellow-sign-adorned tables beckoned you to come try what was being offered. Of course, my cousin and I dove right in!
Yet, even amidst all this splendor, the food was not my favorite part of the event. Don't get me wrong; it definitely ranked way up there! But one moment of the night really stood out to me even more. It happened when I ran into Marc Vetri talking to another chef. I had only briefly met him just that once, back in April at the planning meeting, but as soon as he saw me, he immediately excused himself from his conversation and gave me a one-armed hug, asking how I was and thanking me for coming. I was extremely touched that even among all this bustle of the event he had been planning for a long time, he recognized me and still wanted to know I was well. That was the general feeling of the entire room; everyone, from chef to guest alike, was there to make sure other young people like me were, or could be, well. The chefs had taken time away from their restaurants to fly in from all over the world, and they had worked hard at setting up their tables and cooking enough food for over 1,000 guests, to help children with cancer. Those 1,000+ guests had bought tickets, attended despite the pouring rain, bid on auction items, and opened their hearts to help children with cancer. It was truly something incredible, and I felt honored to be a part of it.
The 2012 Great Chefs Event raised more than $1 million! Click here to view more great pictures of renowned chefs, childhood cancer heroes and guests at the event.