Renowned cookbook author and “Queen” of Mediterranean cooking, Paula Wolfert, was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Rather than going into seclusion, Paula has quickly become a leading spokesperson for the disease. Chefs Farid Zadi and Susan Park with the support of Paula Wolfert and the Alzheimer’s Association, recently hosted an Alzheimer’s disease fundraiser.
Titled “Mediterranean Feast Fundraiser for Paul Wolfert”, it was held at the Daily Dose Restaurant in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. Guest chefs and friends of Paula Wolfert such as Mary Sue Milliken and Nancy Silverton prepared dishes from recipes created or inspired by Paula.
Upon entering, my wife and I observed a whole lamb cooking on a spit rotisserie grill over hot charcoal. Chefs from the Le Cordon Bleu were on hand to prepare the lamb and other assorted dishes. In that same workspace, they prepared roasted Moroccan spiced cauliflower.
Chef Josiah Citrin from Melisse prepared Paula’s Moroccan Red Fish. Fresh monkfish was served with a sauce consisting of tomatoes, olives and basil.
Border Grill’s Mary Sue Milliken served Quinoa fritters over garlic, smashed yellow split peas and basil. Both my wife and I really enjoyed this dish. The dish was very simple in delivery: quinoa fritters over garlic, smashed yellow split peas and basil. Biting into the fritter reminded me of a falafel.
The most interesting dish I had was a Tunisian pastry called brik. The pastry sheets are similar to phyllo, but much easier to work with as it doesn’t tear as easily. A number of people quickly gathered to watch the chef carefully prepare each brik.
Paula Wolfert gave a heartfelt speech. I was extremely moved at how much she was willing to disclose about what she is now not able to do. She even admitted that due to her issues with depth perception, she’s concerned about the simple aspects of cooking. Throughout the speech, she provided witty comments and she implored the audience to help; not for her; but for our children.
While I enjoyed the dishes served, I learned a valuable life’s lesson that day. Midway through Paul’s speech she said with conviction:
DENIAL IS NOT AN OPTION.
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease or Paula Wolfert, please see the following sites: