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Autism Speaks raises $1.6 Million at Celebrity Chef Gala

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, more than 90 of the world’s finest chefs cooked up a flavorful evening for Autism Speaks to Wall Street: 6th Annual Celebrity Chef Gala and raised $1.6 million for the autism community.

The sold-out event was hosted by celebrity Iron Chef, Michael Symon, star of “The Chew.” Three stars from Bravo’sTop Chef cooked tableside for guests including head judge Tom Colicchio (Craft restaurants); season 7 runner-up Angelo Sosa (Social Eatz) and season 8 contestant Mike Isabella (Graffiato). Masaharu Morimoto (MORIMOTO), Terrance Brennan (Artisanal, Picholine), Jonathan Waxman (barbuto) and Food Network’s “Chopped All-Stars” champion Nate Appleman (Chipotle) were also among the celebrity chefs who came out to support families with autism.

Autism Speaks to Wall Street: 6th Annual Celebrity Chef Gala took place in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District at Cipriani Wall Street. The evening kicked-off with well-known chefs presenting hors d’oeuvres during a cocktail hour that featured an exhibition of paintings by Seth Chwast, an inspiring artist with autism whose work was recently featured on U.N. stamps. Following cocktails, more than 90 of the world’s finest chefs – cooked their signature dishes- four course meals – table-side for guests. As dishes came out, attendees were treated to a special performance by Ethan Walmark, a 7-year-old boy on the autism spectrum who appeared on the Today Show” in May after his YouTube performance of Billy Joel’s Piano Man went viral.  Ethan’s rendition of Piano Man at last night’s event garnered a standing ovation from the audience, who were obviously thrilled with his performance. 

Autism Speaks’ Co-founders, Suzanne and Bob Wright served as the evening’s honorary co-chairs along with Franklin Becker, Susan and Philip Harris, Alison and Duncan Niederauer, and Suzanne and Shawn Rubin served as the event co-chairs. Auctioneer Billy Harris rallied the audience and helped raise $156,520 through the live and silent auctions.  A special segment conducted by Billy included a Fund a Need – where guests had the chance to support special Autism Speaks initiatives including, 100 Day Tool Kits, the Autism Treatment Network and iPads for individuals who struggle to communicate. 

[slideshow:2, order=top, width=560, height=450, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/1_chef_gala.jpg|||Chef Michael Symon\, Jennifer Sammon\, Suzanne Wright\, Jim Sammon\, Chef Tom Colicchio\, Bob Wright  ||,img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/chef-morimoto.jpg|||Chef Morimoto at work ||,img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/wrights-remarks.jpg|||Suzanne and Bob Wright deliver remarks ||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/cipriani-chef-gala.jpg|||Cipriani Wall Street - room ready! ||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/ethan-walmark-2.jpg|||Ethan Walmark\, a seven year old on the autism spectrum\, plays a stunning version of Billy Joel's "Piano Man" in front of a captivated audience. Tom Crowley\, Ethan's Behavioral Music Therapist\, joins Ethan on stage  ||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/wrights-dave-price.jpg|||Dave Price\, Co-Anchor of Good Day New York\, and his wife Jacqueline\, with the Wrights ||, img=|http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/7_chef_gala.jpg|||Chef Franklin Becker\, Chef Michael Symon\, Chef Jonathan Waxman\, Chef Neal Fraser\, Chef Marcus Gleadow-Ware||,img=| http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/chef-rusty.jpg|||Chef Rusty Hamlin from the Zac Brown Band ]

This morning, Gala Co-chair and celebrity chef Franklin Becker appeared on Fox 5’s Good Day New York, and spoke about last night’s Gala.  Watch the clip below and click here for more Fox 5 coverage of the event.