Last night was quite a night for Autism Speaks. More than 100 of the nation’s finest chefs put on a culinary extravaganza at the Autism Speaks to Wall Street: 5th Annual Celebrity Chef Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City and was sponsored by Susan and Steven Wise of KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation, Charmz 4 Charity and Puzzlebuilder among other top sponsors. The annual fundraising event – which can easily be described as a foodie paradise – brought together the biggest names in the restaurant world for an amazing evening that raised $1.6 million for Autism Speaks’ research and advocacy initiatives.
The event was emceed by NBC’s “Minute to Win It” host and Food Network personality Guy Fieri, and co-hosted by CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl and Lee Brian Schrager of Southern Wine and Spirits of America. It featured a cocktail reception, auction and the unique experience of four-course tableside cooking by nationally acclaimed chefs such as Bravo’s “Top Chef” lead judge Tom Colicchio (Colicchio & Sons); Franklin Becker (Abe & Arthur’s, Catch and Lexington Brass); Todd English (ÇaVa Brasserie); Masaharu Morimoto (MORIMOTO); Wylie Dufresne (WD-50); Terrance Brennan (Artisanal, Picholine); Food Network’s “Chopped All-Stars” champion Nate Appleman (Chipotle) and “Iron Chef” winner Katsuya Fukushima (Daikaya Restaurant). Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright served as the evening’s honorary co-chairs and Jennifer and Franklin Becker, Susan and Philip Harris, Alison and Duncan Niederauer, and Suzanne and Shawn Rubin served as the event co-chairs.
Highlights from the event include Guy calling Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr and KRG Chairman Steven Wise onstage for a “Minute to Win It” contest of stacking apples. Wise wowed the crowd by balancing five apples in about three seconds for the victory! Guests were also treated to a special performance by Rex Lewis-Clack, a young pianist and vocalist who is faced with the challenges of blindness and autism, and opera singer Sam McElroy, who has been coaching Rex on his singing. Introduced by his friend Lesley Stahl, Rex captivated everyone in attendance and received numerous standing ovations. It was a truly masterful performance that equaled the efforts of the illustrious chefs who graciously donated their time and talents to Autism Speaks on a wonderful evening.
Congratulations to everyone who was involved in the creation and production of HBO’s “Temple Grandin,” which won seven Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Made for TV Movie and Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. Special recognition goes to executive producers Emily Gerson Saines, Gil Bellows, and Anthony Edwards, who are supporters of Autism Speaks.
“Temple Grandin” is currently airing on HBO and the DVD is available for purchase.
View the movie trailer here and check out PopWatch on EW.com: “Temple Grandin” wins big at Emmys. But who is she?
Additional congratulations to our good friend and supporter, Tom Colicchio, whose program “Top Chef” was honored with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality – Competition Program.
In commemoration of Autism Speaks’ inaugural “Light It Up Blue” initiative to help shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis, the world famous Empire State Building in New York City turned its lights blue on April 1 – the first day of Autism Awareness Month and the eve of World Autism Awareness Day, April 2.
Autism Speaks Co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright joined Bravo’s Top Chef Host and Executive Chef Tom Colicchio at a “flip the switch” lighting ceremony at the Empire State Building. The ceremony began with remarks from the building’s manager, Joseph Bellina, followed by brief remarks from Bob and Suzanne Wright. Tom Colicchio then spoke about the hardship that autism creates for families, but also about the beautiful unique qualities that individuals with autism have. Colicchio supported Autism Speaks at this event in honor of his nephew Jack, who has autism.
Autism Speaks would like to thank the Empire State Building for the special lighting on the evening of April 1, 2010 in celebration of the third annual United Nations World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Learn more about the Empire State Building at www.esbnyc.com. The Empire State Building design is a trademark of ESBC and is used with permission.