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"Taste for a Cure" Signature Event Raises More Than $580,000
Posted Date: 4/24/2012 8:30 AM
Dr. Judith Gasson and Jennifer Salke
Dr. Judith Gasson (left) and Jennifer Salke

More than $580,000 was raised at the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation’s signature fundraising event, "Taste for a Cure," held April 20, 2012 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The money will be used to fund highest priority research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in an effort to find more effective and less toxic treatments for cancer.

This year the foundation honored NBC Entertainment president, Jennifer Salke, with the Gil Nickel Humanitarian Award. Jon Holman, Larry Maguire, Gary Newman, Jay Sures and Dana Walden co-chaired the event, which featured performances by Emmy and Golden Globe nominated singer/actress Lea Michele and singer/actor Darren Criss, best known for their roles on the award-winning television show "Glee."

The event also featured food prepared by top chefs from throughout California and luxury wines from 15 family-owned Napa Valley wineries. Wine sponsors included long-time event supporters Far Niente, Nickel & Nickel and Dolce wineries. Additional participating wineries included Barnett Vineyards, Chappellet Winery, Continuum Estate, Frog’s Leap Winery, Grgich Hills Estate, Lail Vineyards, Oakville Ranch Vineyards, Onda D’Oro Winery, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Shafer Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars, Swanson Vineyards and Twomey Cellars.

The featured chefs presented their gourmet signature dishes, including chef/owner Cindy Pawlcyn of Napa Valley’s Mustards Grill, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen and Brassica Restaurants, Ludo Lefebvre of LudoBites, Suzanne Tracht of Jar and Gilles Arzur of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Following the food and wine reception, a tasting menu of savory and sweet dishes was served during the awards program, live auction and entertainment portion of the evening.

“Our organization is so fortunate to have such an extraordinary and dedicated supporter in Jennifer Salke, and we are honored to celebrate this remarkable woman for her generosity and commitment to our mission,” said Judith C. Gasson, the cancer center’s director. “Jennifer’s support of numerous philanthropic causes and her dedication to improving the lives of others embodies all of those qualities that exemplify the Gil Nickel Humanitarian Award.”

The award was created in memory of cancer center foundation event supporter Gil Nickel, proprietor of Napa Valley's Far Niente, Nickel & Nickel and Dolce wineries, who lost a courageous battle against melanoma in October 2003.

Salke is responsible for NBC’s primetime and daytime programming, which includes all drama and comedy development, current programming and casting for the network. Prior to joining NBC Entertainment, Salke served as executive vice president of creative affairs at Twentieth Century Fox Television. During her tenure with Twentieth Century Fox, the studio enjoyed a successful run highlighted by her development and championing of the hit series "Glee" and "Modern Family." Salke serves on the Los Angeles host committee for Girls Inc., and in 2009 was honored by the national charity for her work to help young women in Hollywood. Salke and her son, Henry, were honored in 2011 by Operation Smile for their efforts to help children and young adults born with facial deformities.

The Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, founded in 1945, is the single most important vehicle for raising private funds for cancer research at UCLA. UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center is ranked among the nation's top 10 cancer centers by U.S. News & World Report. The cancer center’s dedicated researchers are recognized as international leaders in the discovery of new and better ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. For information on the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, please visit


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