In its first West Coast fundraiser, members of Women Chefs, Sommeliers, and Restaurateurs (WCR), partnered with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) to put together an event to heighten awareness of symptoms of ovarian cancer with the theme “Women Chefs Turn up the Heat on Ovarian Cancer.”
Serving up a delicious selection of delectables and libations, the celebrity chefs included Santa Monica’s Susan Feniger of Border Grill and Ciudad who, while preparing salpicon, a traditional South American dish, commented, “I’m cooking in honor of one of our founders, Barbara Tropp who passed away from ovarian cancer in 2001.” She continued, “It’s very important to raise awareness of this dread disease.”
Her comments were echoed by Amelia Saltsman, author of The Santa Monica Farmer’s Garden Cookbook, who herself whipped up a parsnip puree, emphasizing the uses of “organic, pure food for good health.”
You could hear a pin drop as this most well-fed group of guests listened attentively as they were addressed by several speakers, the first of whom was one of the organizers, Helene Kennan, Executive Chef, the Getty Center and past president of WCR who noted, “This is the first time we’ve partnered with a charitable organization because we feel strongly about women chefs supporting women’s health issues. With the generous help and support of the Luxe Hotel, we put this event together in 38 days.”
Karen Orloff Kaplan, Executive Director of OCNA, commented, “We are in the business of savings lives and the chefs are here because they care,” adding, “I took this job because we’re on a mission – a mission to save lives by raising awareness among women and health professionals about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and to fund the research and development of better detection.”
Kaplan explained that at the present time, there is no effective early detection testing for this deadliest of gynecological diseases, and that 75% of the 20,000 women diagnosed annually are in the late stages with a very small survival rate, that translates into 15,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
Another celebrity chef was the internationally renowned, and new Santa Monica resident, Anne Willan who for years ran a famous cooking school in Paris and is considered to be in the same league as her colleague, the late Julia Childs. Two other chefs on hand were Suzanne Tracht of Jar Restaurant (who served up a fabulous lamb sandwich with pickled cucumbers topped with aioli), and Suzanne Goin of the award-winning Lucques restaurant in West Hollywood.
Winston Wilkinson, Executive Vice President of Wachovia, one of the evening’s sponsors briefly remarked, “We’ll be here again next year.” Next to speak was a most spirited Michael Balaoing, Senior Vice President of the Entertainment Industry Foundation which donated $726,228.18 to OCA who ended his remarks with, “Tonight we celebrate every brave heart in this room,” adding, “They have the angel cake recipe that gives hope to women.”
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
. Pelvic or abdominal pain
. Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
. Urinary symptoms
(urgency or frequency)
See your doctor if these symptoms persist for more than two weeks.