On November 5th, guests gathered at the PPG Wintergarden to relish some fine wine and delicious local fare at A Passion for Wine presented by Synergetics. On hand, a collection of Pittsburgh’s finest chefs, who mingled with guests as they prepared and shared their culinary creations.  All for one sweet reason – proceeds benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) and their mission to raise awareness and funds to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease, the opportunity to lead full, productive lives.

The evening led by Master of Ceremonies, Frank Murgia, kicked off with an exclusive VIP tasting which highlighted a selection of wines from Lambert Bridge Wines in Sonoma, California.  The event, chaired by Rosemary & Jim O’Neill, included an extensive silent auction and a thrilling live auction which featured rare wines and one-of-a-kind experiential packages that kept bidders on their toes.  Guests sampled from an amazing menu at tasting stations prepared by Pittsburgh’s top culinary artists below:

  • Chef Donato Coluccio from The Capital Grille featured Kona Crusted Filet with Lobster Mac’n’Cheese
  • Chef Lee Corbett from Nine on Nine featured Braised Lamb Belly “Cannelloni”, Rosemary Huckleberry Crepe/Lemon Mint Mascarpone & Pear & Fig Verjus
  • Chef Dave Racicot from Tako featured Warmed crab, Sikil Pak, Brown Butter Mojo, Herbs & Flowers
  • Chef Chris O’Brien from Poros featured Chilean Sea Bass with Rutabaga Purée, Pomegranates, and Pomegranate Molasses
  • Chef Kevin Sousa from Superior Motors featured Wild Mushroom Glazed Duck, Black Walnut Amazake, Butternut Squash.
  • Chef Derek Stevens from Union Standard featured Smoked Squash Soup, Seared Nantucket Bay Scallops, Apple & Sweet Potato Brown Butter with Coriander Oyster Crackers
  • Also featured was Tasso Spiced Pork Loin with Parsnip Bread Salad, Smoked Pecans, Bitter Greens, Pumpkin Vinaigrette, Cider Braised Onion, Roasted Carrot
  • Chef David Piquard from Gaby et Jules was on hand to provide Macaron Towers and assorted miniature pastries for dessert

This is the seventh year that Jim and Rosemary O’Neill are chairing this event to benefit CFF.  “In March of this year, they were honored to receive the CF Foundation’s Jena Award at their National Volunteer Leadership Conference in Washington D.C.,” said Rosemary O’Neill.  “We were humbled to be recognized for our commitment to CFF, but we were also deeply moved by the many dedicated volunteers and supporters from across the country that we had the opportunity to meet.  Our passion for this important cause was further enriched by learning that the CF Foundation continues to be laser-focused in their efforts to provide the resources people with CF need to live longer and healthier lives.  We are now able to dream of a future for people with cystic fibrosis that has never before been an option.”

It seems the organization which is passionate about great food and wine, is also passionate about finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.  The Foundation has dramatically expanded their effort to research for more potential new therapies in the last year alone.  “There are more clinical trials occurring now than ever before,” said Jim O’Neill,  “including new investments in research for potential therapies for people with CF that have nonsense mutations, less common or rare mutations of CF.”  This follows the release of Orkambi in July 2015.  Orkambi is the first drug aimed at treating the basic defect in people with two copies of the most common CF mutation, accounting for approximately 50% of the people living with the disease.

Beside adding tomorrows, the Foundation continues their efforts to assist those living with the disease today as well.  CFF has expanded their assistance through Compass, a personalized service that helps those living with the disease deal with insurance, financial, legal and other issues.  The service is free and confidential to anyone living with CF, their family and their care team.

“There is still much work to be done, but the CF Foundation is headed in the right direction, and our passion and determination to reach the finish line is greater than ever,” said Rosemary O’Neill.  “Thanks to events like A Passion for Wine, and others throughout the year, The CF Foundation continues to make outstanding  progress in the quest to find a cure for all those living with CF.  Our success would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors, family, friends, guests, and the hard-working planning committee.”