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Healthy Mind

A Food Fight for Scleroderma

May 13, 2014

I thought with my last post being about my new love for butter, that this post should be about one particularly spectacular food event that I'm sure relied heavily on butter and fat. And I'm so glad it did.

Two Sundays ago, I got the privilege of attending a fundraiser that could not have been more up my alley. It was called Food Fight.

It’s intention: to raise awareness and money for Scleroderma.

The concept: Pair top Chicago chefs against each other and let the guests decide whose dish wins the Food Fight.

My reason for attending this event was by word of my good friend who has had one too many people in her life affected by the disease. I have to admit – I really knew very little about it myself. I soon found out that unawareness is a big part of the problem. So for everybody reading today, we can at least fix that part by reading on. 

SCLERODERMA: An autoimmune disease in which a person's body attacks its own tissue.
THE CAUSE: Unknown
THE EFFECT: Life-threatening
A CURE: Not yet

The ladies who put on this event call themselves Two Daughters on a Mission. Stephanie and Jennifer's mom was diagnosed with Scleroderma back in 2005. As they so eloquently put on their website and in the event video, their response was, "What the heck is that?" With little treatment of the disease available and a lot of questions unanswered by the medical community, they made it their mission to raise money and awareness. Although their mother lost her battle in 2010, their mission lives on. In honor of their mother's love of cooking, they created Food Fight.

The event was perfect. It was small enough to talk with strangers, but big enough to make an impact. I could tell that everybody in attendance was there for the right reasons. I didn't cross one person who didn't seem genuinely happy to be there, and somehow personally invested in the cause.

Good smells, great chefs and food gurus were everywhere. From the MC, Amanda Puck who was the former host to Channel 11's Check Please, to the wonderfully gifted Chicago chefs making their dishes on stage for all to see. I was in my element talking to people like Rick Gresh, the James' Hotel's head chef and Chef Heather Terhune, Executive Chef of Sable Kitchen & Bar and recent contestant on Top Chef Texas. I may have even jumped into a picture with all of the chefs onstage (above). They called for chefs and food bloggers so I really had no other option.

Here’s what was on the menu.

Lobster Bruschetta with Pistachio and Grapefruit

Grapefruit = sweet, citrusy and summary, Lobster = rich, buttery and summary, Pistachios = crunchy, earthy and summary. This reminded me of being on a yacht with P. Diddy wearing white linen pants and sipping a beachy concoction. And I liked it a lot.

Spring Vegetable Ragout, Creamy Goat Cheese Grits, Kale, Balsamic Reduction

Creamy and cheesy with pops of fresh greens from the peas and a hearty bite from the kale. This was my clear winner, but even more impressive was it was also my meat-eating boyfriend's first choice (major props to Heather Terhune for being able to get his vote over lobster and duck). 

Duck Terrine, Pecan Toffee, Pickled Ramps, Citrus and Lavender

I love nuts in pretty much everything, but add them to duck and it's like cheating it's so good. I didn't taste the lavender as much as I would have liked to. But overall, a solid dish and I love the neon green speckled plate.

One last thought before I leave you. It blows my mind that people like Stephanie and Jennifer's mom had to go through multiple diagnosis before they arrived at the correct one, all because many doctors don't recognize Scleroderma's symptoms. It just shows you how low awareness of a disease can negatively affect it just by not giving the medical community enough reason to do research and find out more. I hope by reading this post that, at the very least, your awareness stays with you. Could we do one better, though, and pass it on to somebody else? 

Visit the Scleroderma Foundation website to learn more. 

Thanks for reading – As always, I appreciate it.