Project A.L.S. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the ultimate understanding, treatment and eventual curing of ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects adults. The Organization was first founded by Jenifer Estess along with her family and friends in 1998. Originally, ALS research was conducted separately by researchers but because of Project A.L.S. researchers and doctors must work together openly, sharing data and research milestones. Project A.L.S. recruits researchers for four main areas: Basic research, Genetics, Stem Cells and Drug Screening.
Project A.L.S. will be hosting their 15th annual Benefit Gala on October 19th with special guests and chefs Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay and Michael White. The Family Dinner by Project A.L.S. will be marking their next chapter in research and therapists for ALS as well as launching an initiative led by Gerry Hayden’s friends to raise awareness about ALS. Tables and tickets for the event are available at Project A.L.S.’s website.
Chef Daniel Boulud sees inspiration when looking at how hopeful his friend Gerry Hayden is about A.L.S.
Chef Daniel Boulud is a French chef and restaurateur with restaurants in New York, Palm Beach, Miami, Montreal, London and Beijing to name a few. He is best known for his NYC 3-star restaurant Daniel and his TV show After Hours with Daniel where he takes a look at the behind the scenes of late night dinners by chefs and for chefs. Boulud is the author of 7 cookbooks with his latest Braise: a Journey Through International Cuisine which came out in 2006. He is the recipient of 3 James Beard Foundation awards and the Chairman of the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation.
Introduction by: Meg Zrini
Interview Conducted Via Email by: Giacinta Pace
Q: How did you get involved with Project ALS and what is your role with the group?
Daniel: I really got involved when Gerry Hayden was first diagnosed and started fundraising for the organization. I had been familiar with the disease and knew how degenerative diseases can be extremely discouraging, but much like Gerry, people who I knew who had them were hopeful that they would battle them. Seeing that is very inspirational to also take up task to help in the fight.
Q: What are some of the important things this organization does?
Daniel: I think raising awareness is key- hearing about the disease for those of us who remember Lou Gehrig still strikes a chord, but for those less familiar it is important to first understand the disease, which is what Project A.L.S. is dedicated to doing. They also work to use raised funds to treat and of course research a cure.
Q: Is there one moving experience you have had while working with the group that stands out above the rest?
Daniel: For me I think it is just watching Gerry be as committed to stay involved in cooking and his daily life as he can and being as active in the organization as possible. He encourages people to talk openly about the disease and I think that makes him an admirable face of the disease.
Q: Tell us about your friend Gerard Hayden and his struggle with the disease and how it has affected the community?
Daniel: Gerry is part of the generation of chefs who shaped cuisine and cooking in America. We are all affected by Gerry’s sickness because we know that the job of a chef requires stamina, energy and strength. The thought of Gerry losing any of these facets is concerning and we will all be there to make sure he can keep doing what he loves in the best condition possible for as long as possible.