Young UCLA leukemia patient launches kid-friendly cookbook, hosts book signing

UCLA Health article

(Editors: B-roll available of Jack Witherspoon in hospital recovering from bone marrow transplant.)

Twist It Up Cookbook by UCLA Patient Jack Witherspoon

Jack Witherspoon, an 11-year-old aspiring chef who has battled leukemia three times and recently underwent a successful bone marrow transplant at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, will sign copies of his new cookbook, "Twist It Up" (Chronicle Books), written to inspire kids to have fun cooking.

More than 300 guests are expected at the book launch, which will include samples of Jack's favorite recipes. Jack's mentor and friend, celebrity chef Fabio Viviani (Bravo's "Top Chef"), will attend the event.

3:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22

HT Grill, 1701 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach, Calif. 90277 (map)


  • 3:30–4 p.m.: Jack prepares food in the kitchen; available for interviews
  • 4–4:30 p.m.: Jack greets guests
  • 4:30 p.m.: Welcome remarks from Jack and his UCLA physician
  • 4:40 p.m.: Jack signs books


Please call media contact to arrange reserved parking in restaurant parking lot. Street parking is also available.

Amy Albin, UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, 310-794-8672

Jack was first diagnosed at age 2 with acute lymphocytic leukemia, which affects the bone marrow and causes immature white blood cells called "blast cells" to proliferate and crowd out other blood cells. At age 6, during his second bout with the disease, Jack discovered TV's Food Network and was hooked. He developed a passion for cooking and creating his own recipes. Jack has cooked at fundraisers that have raised more than $100,000 for charity and has even whipped up dishes on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" and the "Bonnie Hunt Show." His signature phrase — "twist it up" — encourages cooks of all ages to add their own spin to favorite recipes.

In June 2011, the family learned that Jack's leukemia had returned and he would need a bone marrow transplant. Luckily, a perfect donor match was found, and on Aug. 26, he entered UCLA to undergo the transplant. Over the next few weeks, the treatment created new healthy marrow, and Jack was discharged from the hospital 35 days later. He is currently in remission, with no evidence of leukemia, and is already thinking about his next cookbook.

A portion of the proceeds from the book (available at stores and from major online booksellers) will be donated to the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation and the Jack Witherspoon Endowment, which benefits pediatric leukemia research.

For more on Jack, visit For more on the pediatric hematology–oncology program at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, visit

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Media Contact

Amy Albin
(310) 794-8672
[email protected]