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A young chef who began her journey at Food and Finance High School on W50th Steet was making a name for herself in the restaurant world – until a senseless act of violence shattered her dreams.

Visiting New York on July 2, 2020, three days before her 25th birthday, Chef Lay Alston was shot and seriously injured by a gunman. She is now paralyzed from the waist down.

Now based in LA, Lay was back in her home city following the death of her mother from COVID-19. Since the shooting she has been through a number of operations and is now undergoing rehabilitation.  There is a strong chance she will remain paralyzed from the waist down for life.

In 2017, Lay appeared in an episode of Celebrity Undercover Boss with the legendary chef Marcus Samuelsson. Marcus was impressed with Lay and invited her to travel abroad to help open his restaurants in London and Sweden. 

He said on Instagram: “I first met Chef Lay on Celebrity Undercover Boss. She absolutely knocked my socks off so I invited her to join our team. Since then she went on to become a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in Los Angeles, California, which made me incredibly proud.

“This young woman will always be part of our restaurant family, so I was devastated to hear that Chef Lay was the victim of gun violence. To help support her through this difficult time and rehabilitation process, the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) is raising funds through its Alumni Emergency Relief Fund. Please consider donating.”

“We were absolutely heartbroken when we heard about the shooting. Lay has had to overcome so much more than anyone should ever have to, and what she has achieved throughout her lifetime is a testament to her talent and unwavering drive,” said Eliza Loehr, Executive Director of the Food Education Fund. “Lay has been an incredibly important part of the Food & Finance High School and Food Education Fund world throughout high school and afterward, coming back as a visiting chef to work with students. We were so grateful to our community for coming together — with the help of Marcus, Dean Frank Costantino of CINY at Monroe College, and Lay’s fellow alums — through a fundraiser to support Lay as she recovers and works to pursue her dream of running her own food business.”

A statement on the C-CAP fundraising page reads: “It is unclear how or where Lay will be able to continue her culinary work or even teach in the future, and more broadly, how she will support herself. The funds raised through the Alumni Emergency Relief Fund will help Chef Lay in the near-term and serve as a gesture of hope and resilience as she begins her rehabilitation process.”

You can follow this link to donate.

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