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From Left: Chef Jeff Michaud, Jeff Benjamin and Marc Vetri; © Philip Gabriel.
On Tuesday in Philadelphia, local empire builder and F&W Best New Chef 1999 Marc Vetri will welcome some of the country’s most exciting chefs to cook at the 8th annual Great Chefs Event at the Urban Outfitters Headquarters in the city’s Navy Yard. Among the 46 super talents at the grand tasting: Michael Symon, grill master Adam Perry Lang and New York’s April Bloomfield. Vetri founded the event to benefit the charity Alex’s Lemonade Stand after meeting the parents of its creator Alex Scott, a young cancer victim who in 2000, set up a lemonade stand to help raise money to cure other kids with the disease. What Vetri started as a small gathering has since grown to a yearly event that now welcomes 1,200 people and hopes to raise more than $1 million for the second year in a row.
An unintended, but brilliant consequence of Great Chefs has been the establishment of the event's co-beneficiary, Vetri Foundation for Children. Its signature program is called Eatiquette, which aims to improve school lunch by serving healthier food family-style. “The simple reason why our program is so amazing is that if you line up a whole bunch of kids and put apples there, who’s going to take one? But if they’re sitting around and talking and you place a big plate of sliced apples in the middle of the table, they’re all going to eat apples,” says Vetri. In the new school year, Eatiquette should expand from six charter schools into three to four more, including a Philadelphia public school. If you can’t make it down to Philly (though it’s worth trying to score tickets to the after party DJ’ed by Questlove), we suggest bidding on killer auction items now online like dinner with Tom Colicchio and his director wife Lori Silverbush at Vetri and a four-day trip to the Adriatic. The highlight of the live auction is an eating tour through Italy’s Marche region with Vetri himself.
Alex's Lemonade Stand is also hosting National Lemondade Days this weekend, a coast-to-coast fundraiser to raise money to fight childhood cancer.