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A world-renowned chef ponders the children and mission of St. Jude.
In May of 2009, I had the opportunity to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Chefs in the hospital’s Kay Kafe routinely use my recipes to prepare a variety of Asian dishes for St. Jude patients, families and staff.
During a cooking demonstration, I invited a couple of young patients to cook alongside me on stage. What impressed me was the energy and enthusiasm in that place. I counted at least half a dozen future cooking show hosts and hostesses in that room!
We are accustomed to learning from our elders. This is especially true in Asian culture, where the elders are respected and revered. After I visited St. Jude, I came away with a totally new impression on age and learning. I believe that we can all learn a great deal from many of these children who never give up and challenge themselves.
At St. Jude, I learned much about courage and hope. These are things that I have not learned from teachers who are older and more experienced. It was truly a humbling experience.
During my visit to the hospital, I was struck by the wholesome and visitor-friendly atmosphere. It was so homelike; St. Jude did not look or feel like a hospital at all. The employees really go out of their way to create an environment that, for patients and visitors alike, feels like a home away from home, instead of a cold and impersonal medical facility.
Before I went to St. Jude, I was not aware that all children at the hospital are treated without regard for their ability to pay. When I found that out, I was both impressed and moved. There is nothing more important in life than taking care of our most valuable asset—our children.
Speaking as a parent, I know that most of what I do each day I do for my children. I am sure most parents feel the same way. While we support and care for our own children privately, we don’t seem to do enough on a societal level. The truth is, there are still many children out there who are in need of help, and we can do a better job to make sure that they receive it.
St. Jude is a pioneer in the study and treatment of pediatric catastrophic diseases. It deserves to be supported by us. We are so used to saying that our children are our top priority. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.
The celebrated host of more than 3,000 cooking shows broadcast worldwide, certified Chinese Master Chef Martin Yan has hosted the PBS cooking show Yan Can Cooksince 1982. His diverse talents have found expression in 30 cookbooks, including his latest, Martin Yan’s China. He is also a popular public speaker and a restaurateur.
Reprinted from Promise Winter 2010