MEATPACKING DISTRICT — Celebrated chefs from across the nation labored side by side above the Washington Street restaurant Barbuto Tuesday night — but they weren't vying for the top spot on a reality cooking show.
Instead, they were working to raise funds to help cure cancer among children.
"Top Chef" judge and restaurateur Tom Colicchio, New York chef Bill Telepan, Tyler Florence of the Food Network, and dozens of other noted cooks served up a feast Tuesday night at a $1,000-per-head benefit dinner for the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Franklin Becker of the West 14th Street restaurant Abe and Arthur's, which prepared smoked pork rack and beef cheek pierogies, said any competition between chefs vanishes in the face of a good cause.
"It's just one big family, to support a good cause," he said.
The foundation was founded after cancer patient Alexandra "Alex" Scott operated lemonade stands outside her Connecticut home to help other kids with the disease beginning in 2000. After she passed away in 2004 at age 8, her family started the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation to continue her legacy, according to their website. The nonprofit has raised more than $45 million to date.
Colicchio, who served lamb saddle with Swiss chard and pumpkin agnolotti, porcini mushrooms and chestnuts, said he was honored to participate.
"This is one of those events where you can make a difference and connect with people who actually benefit," he said.
Hundreds of people attended the dinner and were assigned tables where they were served the food of just one chef.
Alex's former doctor, pediatric oncologist Dr. John Maris of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said events with broad public interest help draw attention to an important cause.
"[This dinner] takes a very serious issue and finds a way to make it fun to get people involved," he said. "Events like these are helping deliver on the public-private partnership that has to exist for this foundation to have an impact."
Victoria's Secret model Lily Followill, who attended with her husband Caleb Followill of the band Kings of Leon, said she was eager to enjoy the dinner and support the foundation.
"We're foodies," Lily Followill said. "Gathering all these amazing chefs definitely helped bring people here for this amazing cause. To have them all in one room is something very special."
Chicago chef Sarah Grueneberg, a contestant on the current season of "Top Chef," wouldn't reveal anything about the winner of the show, but she did say it was a pleasure to join her colleagues at the event.
"This is a chance to cook for a great cause," she said, "with some of the best chefs in the country."