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27 August 2013

Tonight's Episode: Chase After A Cure

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One of the best parts about writing this blog has been the opportunity to attend and support events for worthy causes. Last night The Girl and I had one such opportunity and feel amazingly blessed to have had the chance. "Memories at the Mansion" was a spectacular event supporting Chase After A Cure, a local non-profit with a major goal. Don't you dare skip down to the (Fabulous) dinner from Chef Nate Whiting and the crew of Tristan. Please take your time and read about Chase After A Cure, their mission, and how you can help. Once that is done you can go enjoy food envy.

Chase After A Cure's Mission:

Chase After a Cure (CAAC) was started in 2009 by Summerville, S.C., resident Whitney Ringler and her family after her son, Chase, was given a 30 percent chance of survival after being diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. Chase survived this aggressive form of cancer and now his family works tirelessly on behalf of childhood cancer research.
CAAC supports families of childhood cancer patients, raises awareness about childhood cancer, specifically neuroblastoma, and funds childhood cancer research at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital.
Cancer is the No. 1 cause of disease-related death among children. About 13,500 children between birth and age 19 are diagnosed with cancer each year. Just at the Medical University of South Carolina, about 70 children are diagnosed annually.
Compared to adult cancer, childhood cancers are rare. Even though childhood cancer incidence rates continue to increase slightly each year, they still represent less than 1 percent of all new cancer diagnoses. That means funding for childhood cancer research is limited. In particular, neuroblastoma which has one of the lowest survival rates receives very little attention because the population base with this form of cancer isn’t profitable enough for pharmaceutical companies to develop new treatments.
While childhood cancer may impact a smaller population, it impacts the young lives of those diagnosed at 100 percent.

Chase Ringler's Story:

On October 2, 2007, Chase Ringler was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. He was always healthy rarely experiencing even a cold. One day he woke up with a stiff neck and the next day we discovered he had Stage 4 cancer. Chase’s diagnosis began with the discovery of a tumor on his left adrenal gland. It was approximately half the size of a golf ball. Other tests concluded that the cancer had already spread to his bone marrow and skull. On October 4, 2007 he underwent surgery to remove the tumor. It was a success, but not without complication. During surgery it was discovered the tumor was entangled in the adjacent lymph nodes as a result, his renal artery was cut which resulted in loss of his kidney. His treatment consisted of 8 rounds of high dose chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, 14 rounds of radiation, six months of Accutane and monoclonal antibody therapy. His treatment is very aggressive since risk of relapse is so high and there is no cure for relapse. Chase has shown tremendous strength and courage through all of this. He continues to warm the hearts of everyone with his smile and laughter.

How You Can Help:

Chase After A Cure hosts several fundraisers through out the year, including a Gala dinner, Golf Tournament, and this year the "Memories at the Mansion" Dinner. But you don't have to attend one of these to help. In addition to simply donating money (I promise they won't be offended if you just want to send them a check), they are always looking for volunteers, in-kind donations of goods and services, and even hosts for new events. If your company, organization, sorority or fraternity, family, book club, motorcycle gang, drinking buddies, or group of casual acquaintances have an idea for a great event (big or small) and would like to raise money for a local cause, please visit Chase After A Cure's website. Get in touch, Get involved, Make a Difference

And With No Further Ado:

The "Memories At The Mansion" event can best be described as a chance to get the band back together. The Woodlands Mansion was long the culinary crown jewel of the South. Only a handful of properties in the United States can boast Mobil 5-Star designation for both the hotel and the restaurant, a designation this luxurious Greek Revival space held for many years.

The Woodlands Spa & Resort closed last year, and new owner Tom Limehouse relaunched the mansion as a premier event space, available for full rental. One of the casualties of this conversion was the acclaimed Dining Room, with the kitchen which had been helmed by several amazing chefs going quiet.

The new focus of The Woodlands does lend itself to a unique opportunity, one that Chase After A Cure wisely jumped on. With Tom Limehouse's enthusiastic support they organized a one-off dinner bringing back The Woodland's long-time Sommelier (and owner of superb Summerville wine shop Accent on Wine) Stephane Peltier and former Executive Chef (and genius behind the massively underrated Tristan) Nate Whiting.

This was also personally a special evening for me. The Woodland's is where I cut my teeth in the fine dining world. Many years ago, working at this stunning estate opened a new world to me. In many ways, this is a homecoming for me.

The event began with a wine tasting, with stations featuring the best of France, the US, and Italy. With nearly 30 wines (at a one-night-only reduced price), the hour long tasting provided a chance to mingle with the 60 donors who joined in for the evening (and snapped up the 18 stunning rooms for the night).
To me, the standout wine from the tasting was the Champagne Charpentier Brut Rose.

The evening opened with a Chef's Compliment of reinterperted Woodland's Peach Tea. If you never had the chance to stay at The Woodlands, at the Concierge station there was always a beautiful peach tea. This encapsulated bubble of tea is a one-bite wonder of whimsy.

Wine pairing: Chanpagne, Veuve Clicqout, 'Yellow Label' France

 First course, 'A Welcome by Sea,' featured sea urchin panna cotta with Osetra caviar, enlightened Chopin Créme fraiche, crystallized onions, and puffed jasmine rice. The Girl notes the perfect texture of the panna cotta, while I fixate on the crystallized onion. Seriously, I want a jar of these to sprinkle all over soups.

Sauvignon Blanc, Fritz, 'Estate Grown,' Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County California 2012
(And now one of my favorite white wines)

 2nd course was a vanilla poached New England lobster with scallop crudo, carrots cooked in embers, Bronte pistachios, and a grapefruit emulsion. A beautiful dish that could have used just a touch more acid, but the play of the pistachios with the seafood is now one of my favorite flavor combos.

Sangiovese, Poggio Rubino, Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy 2010

  3rd Course, And The Girl's favorite, was a prepared-from-scratch Acquerello Risotto with saffron, Chinese five spice, and gilded Parmigiano Reggiano. Decadent is the only way to describe this dish. If you follow me on Twitter (@Foodmancing) then by now you should know that I have a deep-seeded hatred of what passes for risotto in most restaurants. This, however, is the real-deal and should make Nonna bless the the Saints.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cakebread, Napa Valley, California 2009

4th Course, Dry aged Canadian duck breast with Hudson Valley Foie Gras, King trumpet mushrooms, cracklins, and misoyaki glaze. This is duck done right. Milder on the gamey flavor, perfectly matched with the cold foie gras.

Brachetto, Monte Maria 'Casanova' Piedmont, Italy 2011

The sweet finish to the evening was one of the rare occasions where I fairly well inhale the dish while The Girl didn't find it as appealing. This may be one of my new favorite desserts. Smoked chocolate parfait, chocolate pudding skin, chocolate crumble, and caramelized white chocolate. This dish has a beautiful smoke flavor to balance the sweetness. If you aren't a fan of ultra-sweet desserts, this is the dish for you.

At the end of the evening, after the plates were cleared and the glasses empty, it is easy to forget WHY we were all here this evening. Yes this dinner was stellar (and if Chef Nate doesn't get James Beard recognition soon I'll be surprised), but the money raised is of far more importance. Please, if you can find it in your heart, get in touch with Chase After A Cure and find out how you can make a difference in a child's life.

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