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Philadelphia's annual Great Chefs Event brings superstar chefs to city, raises money for Alex's Lemonade Stand

Chefs prepping to serve up good eats to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand
Chefs prepping to serve up good eats to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand 02:53

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The Great Chefs Event is one of Philadelphia's premier food events, and it's just weeks away. It began in 2006 as a way to support Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, and in that first year raised $1,000.

Now in its 16th year, that amount has grown to millions, and it shows no sign of stopping.

If you get a chance to have an award-winning chef make you a pizza, you don't pass that up.

When I asked Marc Vetri what the secret was to a good pie, he said keep it simple. After rattling off a few basic ingredients — Fontina cheese, red onions, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — on this afternoon at Pizzeria Salvy, he added something unexpected, lemons. It was the perfect ingredient since we were chatting about the upcoming Great Chefs Event that benefits Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Chef Mark Vetri loads up a pizza with red onions, cheese and thin-sliced lemon ahead of the Great Chefs Event benefitting the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.  CBS News Philadelphia

The Great Chefs event was the brainchild of Vetri and his business partner, Jeff Benjamin. More than 30 superstar chefs from across the country come together under one roof to serve their signature dishes.

"I can eat their food and I can meet them, and I can snap a photo with them," Vetri said, "and I can have like, this interaction with them, just makes it kind of really special."

But Vetri said it's when Liz Scott talks about the money the event raises to end pediatric cancer, that it takes the event to a whole new level.

"You're like wow, it's not only really amazing food and the event is really fun," Vetri said, "but it's actually super meaningful and we're actually saving lives."

Vetri said that he knew the Great Chefs Event would be great from the beginning.

"I had in my head, I saw it from the first event, I was like, 'This is, has to be huge, it will be huge,'" Vetri said.

As we enjoyed that fresh-out-of-the-oven lemon pizza, I couldn't help but notice that photos of Vetri's father Sal are prominently displayed on the walls. Pizzeria Salvy was named after him.

Among the rules that Sal Vetri lived by was always to have integrity — you are only as good as your word.

It's something his son has taken to heart, especially as it relates to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

"Because they're always like 'Are we going to have this next year?'" Marc Vetri said. "And I'm always like, 'Guys, you got me for life. Like, I'm in.'"

The Great Chefs Event is Saturday, June 8 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Urban Outfitters headquarters in the Navy Yard.

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