Top Chef's Ted Allen honorary chairman for April 16 Celiac Disease Center benefit

April 10, 2008

Ted Allen, the top judge of Bravo's "Top Chef" TV program, is this year's honorary chairman for "Spring Flours," the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center benefit, which will be held Wednesday, April 16, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the University Club's Cathedral Hall, 76 East Monroe St., Chicago.

Gluten-free fare, the only known treatment for celiac disease, will be prepared by some of the best restaurants and chefs in the city at this benefit. Gluten-free beer and wine will also be available. The event will also feature both live and silent auctions, as well as a raffle.

Celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disorder, affects approximately 3 million Americans--enough to fill Soldier Field 44 times. A gluten-free diet, a lifetime requirement for celiac sufferers, means avoiding all foods that contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

Despite these restrictions, people with celiac disease can eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods, including gluten-free bread and pasta. For example, instead of wheat flour, individuals with celiac disease can use potato, rice, soy, corn or bean flour.

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is the first of its kind in the country. It has been dedicated to raising awareness and meeting the needs of those affected by the disease nationwide through education, research and advocacy since 2001. Gastroenterologist Stefano Guandalini, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center and founder and medical director of the Celiac Center, is one of the foremost experts on the disease in the world.

"We are delighted to see such a strong showing for this benefit. It speaks volumes to how the awareness is growing and the true need for our Center, said Guandalini. "We are completely funded by private donations, so the success of this event is critical to the future of our many programs."

Celiac disease affects the digestive process of the small intestine and is triggered by the consumption of gluten.  When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, the individual's immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. Celiac disease can be associated with other autoimmune disorders. If undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions and in rare cases, cancer.

For more information on the "Spring Flours" benefit, please go to www.celiacdisease.net/annual-benefit or www.celiacdisease.net

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