Chefs Who Care

This is the second time I’ve attended the Chefs who Care event benefiting the Ashley Lauren foundation. There is a certain energy in the air that belongs to this event. You can see the hopefulness in people’s eyes from the moment you walk in, and hear the gratefulness in their voices. This is a charity that touches people’s hearts and truly makes a difference. The charity helps families and children through the challenging journey of pediatric cancer, assisting with the families with emotional and financial struggles and hardships that come along with supporting a child with pediatric cancer, so that all of the attention and focus of the family can be on the health and well-being  of their child.

 The foundation spearheaded and led by passionate Mom and Founder of The Ashley Lauren Foundation Monica Vermeulen has blossomed into a grand event, supported by many a skilled pairs of hands creating delicious bites from cupcakes to caviar, all for the benefit of children like Monica’s daughter, Ashley Lauren, the namesake of this charity. Ashley stands tall at every event as a beacon of hope for every child and their family going through this incredibly difficult battle. What I admire most is that this family survived such a difficult journey, and they continue to travel that road with outstretched hands, helping others find a way through it. Together, they make the challenge a little easier to bear. It is that type of kindness that fills the air and that positive energy that fills you up when you attend an event for the Ashley Lauren foundation. 

The chefs that cook for the event are so multi-talented as well. They are not only skilled in their crafts, which is an amalgamation of global delights from American to Thai cuisine, but each talented chef brings to the event a smile and a heart for the cause, and that was felt throughout the venue. Specifically, I loved the Artisanal Cheeses from Daniel Dowe at who created a cheese club that actually sends people different cheeses each month from small producers around the world. His cheeses were delightful, and I will certainly be joining that club! I also loved Heirloom Kitchen’s Whiskey Hill Rabbit Croquette, what a delicious bite of flavor! Heirloom of Asbury Park never disappoints, one of my favorite restaurants in the area. 

The silent auction at the Chefs who Care event featured such amazing items like tickets to Taylor Swift in Miami to box seats spending an entire game from first to last pitch with famed Yankee Tino Martinez. I have to admit the passion of the talented auctioneer, local talent Pat Tully, had me bidding and winning the latter of those prizes.

I am always humbled when I attend a charity event and meet people who have such kind and giving hearts that they donate their time as well as portions of their proceeds to the charity in an effort to become a part of it. At the Chefs who Care event I met so many chefs and people who truly cared about this charity, like popular author Laura Vitale who donated many of her best selling cookbooks “At my Italian Table” for free to attendees at the event. Laura has almost 4 million followers on YouTube alone and launched her cooking videos years ago shortly after YouTube first began, just trying to reach out to other people who loved to cook. Now on her second successful cookbook, she attended the event with such generosity and love for the foundation, with her cookbook a beautiful gift for all.

Organizing a charity event is a lot of work for not only the people that organize it but for those who donate their time, talents, and resources all for the greater good of a common cause. No one lost sight of the reason why we were there at this event. The Ashley Lauren foundation celebrated the importance of what they were doing and why, I think that is what makes this charity  one that is deep in the hearts of all who donate their time to this very special cause. You can’t help but feel overwhelmed when Monica introduces her daughter Ashley Lauren, and want to help families like theirs battle this devastating disease with grace and dignity, which in turn makes every family’s difficult journey through pediatric cancer one that is paved with love.

Author Maria O’Donnell and her daughter Annabelle O’Donnell

To learn more or donate visit: 

Cover photo credit: Kristen Barker    Article photo credits: Annabelle O’Donnell

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