No. 7

February 2000

News and Views Covering Society and Celebrity - Travel and Entertainment - Jam-packed with Anecdotes Guaranteed to Amuse and Entertain as Well as Inform and Enlighten

Joey Adams as Reverso Marrano:
Jewish Celebrity & Closet Christian

Sonny Shar learned tzedaka by selling lemonade on the street

Tipper Gore makes common cause with security of State of Israel

 Gov. George Pataki: lawyer, farmer, politician and YU graduate!

NATO’s Gen. Wesley Clark
discovers his Jewish roots

Todd Slotkin (from left), Sirio Maccioni, Sharyn Mann, Howard Gittis
All photos by Patrick McMullan

"The incidences of food-borne allergy will rise with the global economy," Rep. Patrick Kennedy warned. "You have no idea where food will come from."

Sharyn Mann and Dr. Hugh Sampson

Letter to Dr. Hugh Sampson:
My son Eric had grown up for 17 years with asthma and an allergy to peanuts. On Oct. 29, 1999, he was rollerblading when he took a bite of a friend's Mexican burrito. The tingling in his mouth and lips, and the rash that quickly developed, clearly indicated that he had ingested some peanut substance. Within minutes he collapsed on the street. Despite the efforts of the ER doctors, he died in less than 30 minutes.
Sharyn Mann

Bobby and Mary Richardson Kennedy with Rep. Patrick Kennedy

Howard and Susan Sosin

Concerned Citizens Contend With Food Allergy Affliction
By Tim Boxer

IRIO MACCIONI felt uneasy as he accepted the first annual Joe Baum Commendation for a Commitment to Excellence. Instead of manning his perch on Madison Avenue where he serves the ladies-who-lunch and feeds the captains of commerce at his legendary Le Cirque 2000, he found himself at The Plaza where he was applauded by a ballroomful of admirers. The Food Allergy Initiative (FAI), under chairman Howard Sosin, honored him with its lifetime achievement award.

“The importance of a restaurateur can be measured by the people he knows, by the tales he can tell, and by his discretion to talk about neither,” Roger Yaseen said. “If such is the case, then Sirio Maccioni is clearly America’s greatest host.”

As if to underscore the statement, Maccioni, always the host, provided the sumptuous dessert prepared by his pastry chef, Jacques Torres.

“A restaurateur is one who serves soup, that’s all,” Maccioni said. “I did not expect all this.”

He said his consciousness was raised when he dined with his uncle in France. The restaurant served shellfish, which made his uncle ill. “It made me aware that some people get sick from shellfish and peanuts.”

With an estimated five million people suffering from food allergies, Maccioni promised to engage Le Cirque in New York and Circo in Las Vegas “to help you lead this fight and win the war to educate the [restaurant] industry about food allergies.”

FAI honored Maccioni for taking the initiative. He had his entire staff meet with Dr. Hugh Sampson, director of the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Diners at Le Cirque 2000 now find a new sensitivity to food allergies and a desire to accommodate the needs of patrons.

In an effort to raise funds to research a cure for allergic reactions to food, the FAI gala, under the leadership of dinner chair Sharyn Mann, raised $2 million from such guests as Bobby and Mary Richardson Kennedy, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Dennis Basso, Howard and Lynette Gittis, Valerie and David Zilkha, Drew Nieporent, David Liederman, Andre Soltner, Tim and Nina Zagat, Michele and Larry Herbert, Denise Rich, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Leba and Neil Sedaka and hundreds more.

In Congress, this year’s budget allowed for $1.8 billion for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “While this is a good start, it is just that ¾ a start,” Rep. Patrick Kennedy said.

The Congressman was surprised to find that death from violent allergic episodes can often be prevented with a device called Epi-Pen.

“Even more astounding is the fact that this device is not readily available to many emergency personnel,” he said. “This Congress has a responsibility to make sure that this availability and training happens immediately. I will work in Congress toward that goal. With the continued energy and vigor of the Food Allergy Initiative, we can win this battle.”

Corporate dinner chair Howard Gittis, vice chairman and chief administrative office of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., praised the evening’s guest of honor, colleague Todd Slotkin, for his “unswerving sense of determination. Once he has fixed his sights on an objective, he will allow nothing to distract or dissuade him from achieving it.”

It was with such determination that Slotkin helped create the Food Allergy Initiative two years ago. Slotkin, executive vice president and chief financial officer of MacAndrews & Forbes, is the father of four sons, two of whom are affected by a food allergy. Severe food allergies, he pointed out, now affect 1 of 20 children in the country.

It can be difficult to cope on a family outing. In order to get a slice of plain bread, Slotkin had to ask the waiter:

  • Does this bread have any nuts?

  • Has it been in the same basket as bread with nuts?

  • Was it sliced with the same knife?

  • Has it been contaminated in any way?

  • Can you check with the kitchen again?

“Ordinary activities such as school meals, birthday parties, summer camps, restaurants and travel are fraught with danger,” Slotkin said. “The unspoken fear is, will today be the last time we see our child?"


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