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Fanshawe students help out celebrity chef

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | April 13th, 2009

Michael Smith walked into a crowded theater where 100 chef apprentices gathered and eagerly awaited his presentation.

Smith, a world-renowned chef and television personality with five food programs under his belt, was in attendance on Friday, April 3 for Saturday's Recipe for Hope Charity Gala Ball, which was held at the University of Western Ontario.

“This event is a learning exercise for the student volunteers,” said Smith.

The Gala was in remembrance for Bethany McIntyre who lost a courageous battle with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD), at only seven years of age.

“The charity event was great,” said Scott Baechler, Fanshawe's Cuisine Chef.

According to Baechler, 340 people came to support research for Bethany's Hope with optimism of one day finding a cure for an inherited disease that claims one in every 60,000 children.

Approximately 25 Fanshawe culinary students volunteered their time to help the worthy cause.

Smith offered his time to come and meet with fellow culinary students at Fanshawe in order to have the students volunteer their time at the Gala Saturday night.

Following the two-hour presentation, Smith debriefed student volunteers on what was expected when serving a well-detailed five-course meal to a large crowd.

“We served a five-course meal that included an east smoked salmon entrée...a roasted eggplant salad...and we finished with a baked chocolate cake served in coffee mugs,” Baechler said.

“We fed approximately 340 people a five course dinner... met some amazing people…were made to feel comfortable by Chef Smith, Chef Coleby and the UWO staff and those organizing this event,” said Dava Robichaud, a first year Culinary Arts student at Fanshawe College.“I have to say that if I had not had the training that I have had from the amazing chef trainers at Fanshawe, I might not have felt as comfortable as I did going into the kitchen at Great Hall (at Western).”

Smith is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York City where Gordon Ramsey was also trained.

“That should give you some idea of what kind of kitchen that was,” Smith reminisced about being taught in the same kitchen as Ramsey two years prior. “They weren't exactly the most polite chefs.”

Smith is best known for Food Network shows “Chef at Large” and “Chef at Home”.

“Chef Michael Smith is as laid back and down to earth as he seems on his television also extremely organized and structured. He demonstrated how to gain maximum efficiency from his staff without all the dramatics that we sometime see in other programs from other cChefs,” added Robichaud.

Previous highlights of Smith's career include work in a Michelin three-star restaurant in London, England and also some of Manhattan's finest kitchens.

At present, Smith resides in Prince Edward Island along side his wife Rachel and their seven year-old son Gabriel.

According to the Bethany's Hope website Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD), is the most common form of Leukodystrophy, and is a rare inherited neurometabolic disorder affecting the white matter of the brain (Leukoencephalopathy).

Symptoms of Metachromatic Leukodystrophy may include convulsions, seizures, personality changes, spasticity, progressive dementia, motor disturbances progressing to paralysis, and/or visual impairment leading to blindness.

Metachromatic Leukodystrophy is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. There are three types of the disease that have similar symptoms.
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