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Marc Summers Helps NFCA Raise $340,000 for Celiac Educational Programming

Posted Sep 26 2008 2:49pm

Congratulations Philadelphia for becoming the first “Gluten-Free Neighborhood” in the United States and for helping the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) raise over $340,000 to expand its education and awareness programs!

In case you missed the festivities, the NFCA held its 5th annual Appetite for Awareness event this week at the Wachovia Center.  More than 1400 people attended the event to help raise funds to combat Marc Summers with NFCA Staff celiac disease! The event was hosted by the Food Network’s Unwrapped Host Marc Summers and represents the largest fundraiser the organization has held to date to raise awareness about the disease.

To showcase the work of the NFCA, to educate physicians and to train restaurants in the preparation of safe, gluten-free food, 35 of Philadelphia’s top chefs partnered up with doctors from 10 area hospitals to cook gluten-free meals. The teams competed in an Iron Chef-like competition for two awards. Chef Brad Spence of Vetri took home the Best Gluten-Free Dish Award and Chef Pasquale Masters of Pasta Pomodoro swept up the People’s Choice Award with his delicious Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce and Garlic Bread with Fresh Mozzarella Cheese! It was AMAZING and definitely got my vote!

In addition to preparing gluten-free food for attendees to sample, all of the restaurants have committed to permanently adding gluten-free dishes to their menus, which will make Philadelphia the first gluten-free neighborhood in the country!! Woohoo!!

 “Appetite for Awareness 2008 furthered the NFCA’s goal to educate as many doctors, chefs and members of the public about celiac disease as possible so that the millions of people who might be suffering needlessly can be diagnosed and reclaim their lives,” said NFCA Executive Director Alice Bast.  “This event marked the first induction of a truly gluten-free city in the United States. I challenge every other city to follow the remarkable lead of Philadelphia chefs and doctors.” 

I had a chance to speak in depth with Chef Ari Weiswasser of Pear l and his comments were truly touching. He said, “Appetite for Awareness gave me a new found appreciation for gluten-free cooking. By making a few simple alterations to items on my menu, I can safely feed everyone with celiac disease and help them understand that gluten-free food can be inventive and delicious.” 

To see a list of all of the chefs who participated, please visit:

Also at the event, Philadelphia Magazine President David H. Lipson, Junior was honored with the Accolades for Awareness award for his work on behalf of NFCA.  Philadelphia Magazine has brought the area’s Top Doctors and Top Chefs together to address celiac disease.

Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider, who is a member of the NFCA Board of Directors, generously donated the use of the Wachovia Center for the evening where, in addition to tasting gluten-free food, there was an auction and raffle. But more importantly there were amazing performances on the ICE! That’s right…the ice where the Philadelphia Flyers typically face off in hockey was transformed into a magical array of ice furniture for the VIP reception. While the VIPs enjoyed delicious gluten-free food, they got to watch top notch ice skaters perform including a bronze medal pairs team from the 2006 Winter Olympics!

Our staff had a blast at the event and we truly thank everyone for their dedication to helping the NFCA expand its programs as we work to improve the lives of people with celiac disease nationwide.

Check out the awesome pictures below to see how fabulous the event was!

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