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The Iron Event: A food fight and fundraiser

Just a few of the chefs, hosts, and event coordinators that have made the Iron Event what it is. This photo is from Iron Event 2013.


The Iron Event turns five this year. Its move to Hotel Lafayette means the growing food fest may finally have the room it needs. Studded with Buffalo’s top chefs, the annual fundraiser also serves as a friendly cooking competition. Local chefs vie for the win each year, and attendees benefit from the effort.

Organized by Daniel Tracy, a local man who once worked as a chef, the Iron Event donated its profits to the ALS Association for its first four years. But Tracy, who is himself a victim of Lou Gehrig’s disease, was eventually convinced by his many participating chef friends to put a portion of the funds they will raise toward his own care. ALS is a neurological disease that causes muscle weakness and quickly affects one’s ability to control the muscles required to move, speak, eat, and even breathe. As of yet, its cause remains unknown and no treatment has been deemed successful. When the Iron Event began, Tracy was suffering some of its devastating effects, but was able to attend meetings, send emails, and organize the many details from his home. Today, Tracy is almost completely physically incapacitated and living in a full-care nursing facility. He runs the increasingly popular event with nothing more than a little help from his friends.

In addition to softening the blow caused by the $250k per-year estimated care costs incurred by any full-blown ALS sufferer, some of the event’s proceeds will be gifted to nonprofit Slow Food Buffalo/Niagara, which will in turn use those monies for a school garden project.

While the fundraising effort is an important factor in this event, as the consumer, you only need to know that it’s one of the best tickets in town for food fans. This year’s Iron Event features fare from the Black Sheep, Toutant, Bourbon & Butter, Buffalo Proper, Osteria 166, Ristorante Lombardo, Oliver’s, Mansion on Delaware Avenue, and Jaguar at the Bistro, as well as artisanal food purveyors such as Nickel City Cheese and Mercantile. In order to keep things exciting and the food top-notch, Tracy dreamed up the event as a competition of sorts. Each year a small handful of envy-inducing prizes is given out for the “best bite.” 

Osteria 166 has taken several of those prizes over the years. Jeff Cooke Jr., the popular restaurant’s executive chef, says, “The Iron Event is special to chefs in Buffalo because it’s a cause credited and supported by one of our own. It’s inspiring to be a part of it, to share a taste of our top-tier offerings, and to try and impress each other, Daniel, and the folks who come to support the event with our offerings. You’d be hard pressed to find another group of talented, dedicated, warmhearted—albeit competitive—chefs anywhere! I am impressed and in awe of what Daniel accomplishes despite his difficulties. It pushes me to do my best.”

In addition to reliably good food, guests also have access to one of the best silent auctions in the area as well as live music from Cue the Sun, Critt’s Juke Joint, Ten Cent Howl, and others.

The Iron Event will take place on September 14 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $40 presale and $45 at the door, but since they sell out quickly, we’d suggest you get yours as early as possible; visit theironevent.org.    





Christa Glennie Seychew is Spree’s senior editor. 

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