Michael Symon still feels bad about getting chopped last season on Chopped All-Stars, but not because he’s a sore loser. The Iron Chef was competing for Autism Speaks, and says it still gets to him that he wasn’t able to win $50,000 for this charity that’s near and dear to his heart. “You feel like you’ve let down a greater cause, not just your own well-being,” he says. “It beat me up a little bit.”
Michael got his chance to give back by serving as the host of this year’s Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala, which took place Tuesday in New York. More than 90 chefs from coast-to-coast, including fellow Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Next Iron Chef contender Nate Appleman, descended on Wall Street to cook for this worthy cause.
Michael and his fellow chefs helped raise $1.6 million in funding for Autism Speaks’ research and advocacy initiatives. “My best friend and his wife have three boys, two that are on the Autism spectrum, and I have a nephew who is on the spectrum also,” he explains. “They’re fantastic kids, and it’s just shown me that if you build awareness and educate people and yourself, you can help make tremendous strides.”