More than 1,200 people filled the headquarters of Urban Outfitters in the Navy Yard last night for a chance to taste food by more than four-dozen chefs from around the world and raise money for a good cause at the Vetri Foundation's Great Chefs Event. The eighth annual fundraiser for Alex's Lemonade Stand raised over $1.1 million to for the fight against childhood cancer.
Local restaurateurs Jose Garces, Michael Solomonov and others joined notable out-of-towners like Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto), Ken Oringer (Toro, Clio) and Marco Rossi (who flew in from Bergamo, Italy) to feed gourmet bites to a hungry crowd. The team from NYC's Big Gay Ice Cream made the trip down for the first year. Tickets to the sold out event were $350 per person ($500 for VIP).
Emcees Marc Summers of the Food Network and Mike Jerrick of Fox 29 introduced Liz and Jay Scott, whose daughter Alex started Alex's Lemonade Stand during her poignant battle with neuroblastoma, which took her life at eight years old. A group of kids affected by childhood cancer took the stage to present a donation of more than $344,000 from Five Below's month-long fund-raising campaign.
A live auction raised a total of $88,000 for the cause, including a winning bid of $26,000 for a six-person trip to Italy with Marc Vetri and Jeff Michaud. Bidding quickly jumped to $12,000 for a dinner with 35 friends by Michael Solomonov at Percy Street Barbecue, even though Solomonov promised to keep his clothes on (last year's dinner was sold with the promise of chefs cooking in their underwear). The Percy Street item was so popular that the auctioneer sold two dinners at that winning price.
A dinner for 25 people in the forthcoming Pizzeria Vetri with guest pizzaiolo Chris Bianco started at $5,000 and shot up to $14,000 within minutes. The six-person meal served personally by Marc Vetri, Jeff Michaud and Tom Colicchio at Vetri went for $12,000.
After the main event, those with VIP tickets joined the chefs and volunteers at Alla Spina on North Broad for an after-party. Chef Brad Spence carved a 130-pound mortadella (nicknamed "Morty" by Marc Vetri), which was balanced atop a bathtub. Questlove of the Roots did a great job DJing inside while a tent outside hosted food trucks, a giant meat smoker and a mummers string band.