- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 24, 2005

It was one of those fund-raisers that makes everyone feel happily sated: an evening of exceptional food for an exceptional cause. Chefs from Citronelle, Nora, Galileo, CityZen and Equinox, among many other prominent area eateries, set up cooking stations that encircled the Commerce Department’s grandly gilded Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on Tuesday night to raise nearly $500,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Memphis, Tenn.-based facility that treats children who have cancer without regard to income.

The 500 guests attending the seventh annual Gourmet Gala at $250 a pop were given the chance to sup on rare treats at elegantly set tables, although many preferred to stand and nibble on Carolina shrimp and creamy grits (from Vidalia/Bistro Bis), delicious duck confit with wild rice and cherry/orange sauce (prepared by 1789 Restaurant chef, Ris Lacoste, who helps organize the gala every year), or incomparable chocolate cream puffs dipped in chocolate with nuts from Citronelle.

The key, one veteran gala-goer was heard advising a newcomer: Don’t fill up on salad, and resign yourself to the fact that you most certainly will overeat.

Before dinner, Galileo chef Roberto Donna, and Michel Richard of Citronelle both agreed that although there are an endless number of worthy charities they are asked to support, it is St. Jude’s, the world’s largest childhood cancer research center, that gets their support every year — and for one reason.

“Kids, kids, kids, kids,” said Mr. Richard, who grew up an orphan and is now a father of six. “I love them, he added, emphatically. “You have to create Christmas every day for kids.”

Madison Adams was also on hand to remind guests that their tiny plates of foie gras and tuna sashimi had a greater purpose than to tickle taste buds.

Madison, a 10-year-old from Norton, Va., has battled leukemia with St. Jude’s help and was given a Heroes Award for her bravery during the agonizing treatments at a pre-dinner ceremony.

She told the crowd with confidence that when she grows up, “I want to become a forensic pathologist.”

David Scanlon showed off a photo of his handsome 29-year-old son, David III, who was successfully treated at St. Jude for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 19 years ago. He’s now in his third year of medical school at the University of Nebraska and “his dream is to be a doctor at St. Jude.”

“St. Jude saved his life,” the beaming Mr. Scanlon said.

Christina Ianzito

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