CSCA Alumni Honored for Work to Cure Diabetes
[March 19, 2012] Wesley Chen is no stranger to the far-reaching effects diabetes can have on a family. His paternal grandmother has been living with Type 2 Diabetes for more than 30 years. Now 88 years old, the family credits Ah-Pao Chen's resiliency to the care she has received at the world's preeminent diabetes research and clinical care organization, the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
It was the treatment received by Ah-Pao that serves as the inspiration for Chen's continued involvement with Joslin. Wesley is the executive chef of the Lotus Cuisine chain of restaurants, which he owns and operates with his four brothers and two sisters. He was originally approached by Joslin more than 10 years ago to help with a food demonstration being given at a diabetes conference held in Boston.
“I saw it as a small way to pay Joslin Diabetes Center back for the wonderful care my grandmother has received there,” said Chef Chen. "And when you have a personal connection and a tremendous interest in something, you always want to do more. For me this is true because of my grandmother, but also because of the role food plays in nearly every aspect of the education, care, and research related to diabetes."
Chen was approached two years later by Joslin's Asian-American Diabetes Initiative (AADI) to participate in the first-ever A Spoonful of Ginger, a food-tasting event featuring some of Boston's renowned chefs and restaurants, including his alma mater, The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (The CSCA). Now in its eighth year, A Spoonful of Ginger will honor Wesley and his family for their contributions to the AADI's mission.
This year, as his family is being toasted as one of the event's honorees for their commitment to supporting Joslin and helping to increase involvement of their colleagues in the culinary community, Chef Chen will once again lend his talents to A Spoonful of Ginger. He will serve a ginger-inspired dish.
Chen's family owns the Lotus Blossom in Sudbury, Changsho in Cambridge, Lotus Flower in Framingham, and Water Lily in Wayland. Wesley is a graduate of The CSCA's Professional Chef's Program.
The AADI was founded when Dr. George King, chief scientific officer at Joslin, noticed an alarming increase in the number of Asian-Americans being diagnosed with diabetes. Chen feels he understands part of why this is occurring.
"It's not what is being eaten, but what is being added to the food and how it is prepared," he explains. "People are eating more processed foods than ever and exercising less, and this combination is creating an unhealthy lifestyle that can ultimately cause diabetes."
A Spoonful of Ginger is Monday, March 26, 2012, from 6:30pm to 9:30pm at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston's new Art of the Americas Wing. Proceeds will benefit the AADI's mission of enhancing the quality of life and health outcomes for the rising number of Asians and Asian-Americans living with diabetes.
The CSCA has participated in the A Spoonful of Ginger benefit since its inception. This year, students and chef/instructors will prepare and serve Char Siu — Chinese Barbecue Pork — and sugar-free lollipops.
For more information on the Joslin Diabetes Center's 8th Annual A Spoonful of Ginger, visit wwww.joslin.org/ginger.
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