Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation Draws Foodies To Chili Challenge

by PETER FELD · March 1, 2010

The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation helped kick off a pleasant, post-snowstorm weekend on Saturday afternoon with its annual Chili Challenge. A swarm of foodies and celebrity judges gathered at SideBar to pick a winner from an, um, unforgettable 18 chili stations.-

Alzheimer's is not only cruel, explains ADDF's Sharon Becker, it's economically crippling -- "the third most expensive illness in the country, after heart disease and cancer" -- and has no real treatment. To accelerate the development of promising drugs, the ADDF practices "venture philanthropy," taking stakes in early-stage biotech companies where, as executive director Dr. Howard Fillit notes, "a lot of the innovation comes from," like Stanford's PharmatrophiX.

Chili Challenge judges, including Diane DiMeo of 1834 Bar & Burger (recent winner of the Food Network's CHOPPED), Peter Meehan, of the NY Times's T Magazine blog and co-author of the Momofuku cookbook, Alan Natkiel of Georgia's East Side BBQ, and Molly Sheckell of Bumble and bumble Café, juggled chili plates and drinks along with b5media's Jennifer Wright and photographer Nick McGlynn of Random Night Out, who was on hand to document the event.

The Shark Show's Nick Stevens served as MC and announced the winners: TBC Texas Chili was the judges' choice and Holy Moléy Cocina was the crowd favorite. Stevens entertained the crowd through a suspenseful raffle drawing, the highlight of which was a coveted bronze stam bag donated by Marc Jacobs. The TBC team seemed to win most of the raffle, too.

But the biggest prize of all might be this advice from ADDF's Dr. Fillit, who warns that Alzheimer's starts at an earlier age than we may think. "Young people need to think about protecting themselves." How? By leading a healthy lifestyle (oops!). "Everything you know about protecting your heart, you should think about for protecting your brain: exercise, increasing the blood flow." Interesting. Perhaps we can convince Mayor Bloomberg that lifting New York's anti-dancing laws should be his next public health campaign?

TBC Texas Chili

Peter Meehan Molly Sheckell

Nick Stevens

Sharon Becker, Dr. Howard Fillit

Alan Natkiel                                     Diane DiMeo

[All photos by Nick McGlynn for Random Night Out]