Chefs from around the country came together Saturday at UCLA to help raise funds to fight childhood cancer at the sixth annual L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade tasting fund raiser, and despite the steamy weather, plenty of celebs turned out to support the cause. More than $1 million was raised, thanks to a matching funds donor.
“What could be better to be able to fight childhood cancer while eating all afternoon?” said “Girls” producer Jenni Konner, joking that she and Lena Dunham had already eaten a “Passover dinner’s worth of food in 10 minutes” before the food booths closed for an auction. Among the auction items were a trip to Paris with chef Ludo Lefebvre cooking dinner at a chateau and a group dinner featuring women chefs such as Nancy Silverton, Sherry Yard and April Bloomfield.
Laura Dern, who went to school with event host Suzanne Goin, said she comes every year and also follows the cancer research studies closely. “And my kids work at the lemonade stand,” added Dern. Also tasting and sipping were “Criminal Minds'” star Kirsten Vangsness, Jimmy Kimmel, “Modern Family’s” Nolan Gould, Thandie Newton, Pauley Perrette, Colin Hanks, Timothy Olyphant and “About a Boy’s” Benjamin Stockham.
Several chefs had the timely idea to incorporate icy elements in their dishes, such as Michael Voltaggio‘s frozen tomato slushie, the Border Grill’s avocado ceviche topped with tomatillo-cilantro granita and Sweet Rose Creamery’s summery peach popsicle. Others embraced the heat, like barbecue master Adam Perry Lang and Phoenix pizza pro Chris Bianco — Kimmel is a big fan of both. Roy Choi‘s Kogi BBQ truck was there along with his A-Frame restaurant, which offered a cool and sophisticated shrimp poke salad. This year, chefs seemed intrigued with lamb, seen in tostadas, BLTs and mini-chops, and with avocado, also featured by chef Ludo Lefebvre, who was out of town, so a cardboard cut-out repped the popular Trois Mec chef instead.
The idea for Alex’s Lemonade was hatched by Alex Scott, who at 4 years old decided she wanted to have a lemonade stand to help kids with cancer. The Philadelphian girl died at age 8, but her parents Liz and Jay Scott have continued the fight to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. There are now events across the country, and in L.A., the event is hosted by restaurateurs Goin and Caroline Styne (Lucques, AOC, Tavern) along with the Hungry Cat’s David Lentz. Goin and Styne invite top chefs from around the country to offer taste of their signature dishes as well as cocktails and wine tastings.