Article featured image

This past weekend’s L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade brought some of the best chefs in the country together to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a group committed to finding better treatments and cures for kids with cancer. In the midst of a live Michelle Branch performance, celebrities galore and Jimmy Kimmel emceeing the whole thing, we posed two quick questions to some of the participating chefs. Here’s what they had to say:

Now that it’s officially Fall, what’s your favorite Fall ingredient to cook with?

Russell Moore (Camino, Oakland): “Fall in Northern California is still tomato and pepper season, so it’s still that until rutabagas come along. I like rutabagas but it has to be really cold for rutabagas to be good.”

Matthew Accarrino (SPQR, San Francisco): “Chestnuts.”

Michael Voltaggio (ink., Los Angeles): “Kabocha squash probably this year. Hopefully. But this year I think it’s going to be tomatoes, though, because tomato season started so late I think we’re going to be serving tomatoes in December this year.”

Michael Cimarusti (Providence, Connie and Ted’s; Los Angeles): “White truffle.”

April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig, New York City): “Pumpkins.”

Donald Link (Herbsaint, Cochon; New Orleans): “Duck. Greens – collards, mustards.”

Jon Shook (Animal, Son of a Gun; Los Angeles): “I’m excited for delicata squash.”

Paul Kahan (Blackbird, avec, The Publican; Chicago): “Red kuri squash.”

Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto, New York City): “Honestly, any squash. In particular, hubbard squash. Hubbard squash, by far, is like my demonic go-to. I just want to do really bad things to it.”

What’s the secret to crafting the perfect dish for a food festival or charity event?

Michael Voltaggio: “Making sure that you have something that’s whimsical that people are talking about. Like if they take it across the room and somebody else sees them eating it, I think it’s like, ‘Oh! Where did you get that?’ and then that directs them to your station, but then you got to make sure it’s delicious and that’s the most important thing.”

Paul Kahan: “Fun. If you take yourself too seriously and do really manipulated food, people just don’t — That’s not what being out is — It’s a barbeque. Fun. F-U-N.”

Michael Cimarusti: “Just serve something fried and full of fat.”

Donald Link: “Represent the restaurant and where I come from, which is New Orleans. It should be easy to execute so you don’t get bogged down and nice big flavors because they’re small portions.”

Matthew Accarrino: “I always think it’s balance in flavor. Something that has an intense flavor that’s not a big portion so that people can eat it and move on to other things.”

April Bloomfield: “Something nice and simple but punchy and clean.”

Jon Shook: “Have fun. Be yourself.”

Jonathan Waxman: “I think the secret is to remember that it’s a collaboration, really, of all your associates. So you can’t really do something that someone else is doing because it doesn’t make sense and you have to be complementary. You know, because I’m Mr. Seasonality, I’ve got all this great stuff from Harry’s Berries so it wasn’t hard for me.”

To learn more or to make a donation to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, visit: