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The Iron Event: Buffalo’s Top Chefs Face Off for ALS Awareness

If you’re active on social media, chances are you’ve seen the videos of individuals taking the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in support of ALS awareness that are spreading like viral wildfire. Regardless of personal opinions on the challenge itself, none of us can argue that victims of ALS or those in the medical field working to combat the disease don’t deserve as much support in raising awareness and funds as they can get.

ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), is defined by the ALS Association as “a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.”

An ALS diagnosis means a patient will eventually lose control of the muscles needed to perform those basic daily functions we take for granted, such as simple movements, speaking, eating and breathing. Every day, people from all walks of life have been bravely fighting against this disease long before the Ice Bucket Challenge was even a thought. dan-tracy-headshot-300x282

Here in Buffalo, one of our own local chefs, Daniel Tracy, was diagnosed in 2010 with ALS. Rather than let it slow him down, the chef known for his work at Mothers, Tempo, and Black & Blue rallied his fellow chefs to wage war on ALS by throwing a culinary throw-down to raise money to help those victims fighting the good fight every day.

“It is estimated that people with ALS will require $250,000-$350,000 a year beyond the second year of diagnosis to prolong their survival time,” Tracy writes. “It is for this reason that on January 30th, 2011, January 29th, 2012 and September 9th, 2013, with the help of dozens of volunteers, I staged very successful fundraising events. Due to the success of these fundraisers I am in the process of planning another bigger and better one for Monday, September 8th, all from a small desk inside my room at a nursing home.”

This year on September 8, Tracy and his crew of culinary aces will host The Iron Event 2014 at the Town Ballroom (681 Main Street). The event runs from 6 to 10 p.m. and will feature some of Buffalo’s most talented chefs participating in a “top chef – best amuse bouche” competition. Every chef will be required to provide every guest with an amuse bouche (a bite-sized sample) and they will cast their vote via ballot to determine the night’s winner. Proceeds will benefit an ALS charity and Daniel Tracy’s medical fund. Admission is priced at $30 presale and $35 at the door.

This year’s lineup of participants includes:

  • Edward Forster, Buffalo Proper
  • Bruce Wieszala, Tabree
  • Matt DiCamillo, DiCamillo’s Bakery
  • Steve & Ellen Gedra, The Black Sheep
  • Jeffrey Cooke, Osteria 166
  • Jill Forster, Nickel City Cheese and Mercantile
  • Chaz Bulera, Riverstone Grill
  • J Lennon Lewandowski, Oliver’s
  • Mike A & Chris Daigler, Mike A’s @ the Lafayette
  • Frank Mercado, M&T’s Executive Dining Room
  • Jennifer Boye, The Mansion
  • Carmelo Raimondi, Carmelo’s
  • Luci Levere, Elm Street Bakery

The event will also feature music by Clyde, Cue the Sun, and Owski, and signature cocktails by Jon Karel. There will also be a raffle of “Danny T’s Prizes” taking place, with proceeds going to Daniel Tracy. Tickets are priced at one ticket for $10; three tickets for $25, ten tickets for $50, and 20 tickets for $80. The drawing will be held live on Monday, Sept. 15.

Years before any of us took the ice bucket challenge, Buffalo’s finest chefs brought their talents to the forefront to help those battling ALS. With the caliber of the line-up and the nobility of the cause, The Iron Event is not one to be missed. To purchase tickets to the event and for more information, visit or follow on Facebook at

Iron event poster

Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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