Charlotte is one of the leading cities for bake sales that raise money for the charity Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, founded by Gretchen Holt-Witt after her son, Liam, was diagnosed with pediatric cancer.
Liam Witt died in 2011, at the age of 6 1/2, after a four-year fight with cancer. But his mom, Gretchen, is still out there fighting to raise money for medicine to give other kids a chance.
On Tuesday night, chefs all over Charlotte came to the Foundation for the Carolinas uptown to serve more than cookies. The sold-out event, Chefs for Kids’ Cancer, featured jars of cookies donated by local shops and bakeries, and a lot more sophisticated food.
Annunziata of Passion8 was making beet gnocchi with butternut squash creme topped with thin strips of crispy fried smoke ricotta salata and pumpkin-marinated Korean pork belly stopped with pickled winter squash and kohlrabi slaw. Clark Barlowe of Heirloom really got into the grownup-kids idea with grilled cheese sandwiches filled with a truffle-studded ash-rind cheese from Orrman’s Cheese Shop.
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One of my favorite dishes: Jon Fortes’ team from the Flipside in Rock Hill had little spoons filled with a radish salad (radishes from Rosemary Pete), fresh ricotta cheese (from Una Alla Volta), pomegranate seeds and a little fig vinegar. Creamy, crunchy and vibrant all at once.
The chefs on hand also included Tim Groody of Fork!, Brent Martin of the Summit Room, and Michael Toscano, who has left Perla in New York and is working on a new restaurant he’s opening in Charleston next spring. Mixologists Bob Peters of the Punch Room and Brian Lorusso of Dogwood were mixing drinks (including Lorusso’s amazing cocktail with smoked cinnamon).
Holt-Witt herself was on hand, with a whole tribe of the local mothers who organizes those big bake sales to raise money for cancer-drug trials. She was particularly thrilled to show off the big logo at the door. If you look closely at the picture, you can see that the artist took a lot of Liam’s favorite things – circus tents, and hot-air balloons, and dinosaurs, and kits, and sailing ships – and shaped them into the word “Kids.”
Keep an eye out for information on the big Charlotte Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sales planned Dec. 5.