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A group of London diners has bid a record-breaking £36,000 for dinner at Oblix at the Shard on its opening night, cooked by Rainer Becker. The extraordinary bid was made last night as part of annual charity bash Who’s Cooking Dinner, which saw 20 of London’s hottest chefs – including Pollen Street Social's Jason Atherton, Marcus Wareing and Pierre Koffmann (pictured, right, with the other participants) – cook dinner for tables of 10 diners, who each paid £600 to attend; each year, all proceeds go to the Leuka charity.
At the event, guests at each table sat down to a four-course meal cooked by one of the participating chefs – only finding out who would be cooking for them at the tense pre-dinner draw. This year, starters ranged from lobster sashimi with shiso and umeboshi at Rainer Becker’s table, to lime-marinated mackerel with caviar, cucumber and avocado over in Marcus Wareing’s corner. Main courses included roast pigeon with red leaves and vegetables, foie gras and pears from Brett Graham’s team, and 30-day-aged beef fillet with wagyu beef cheek, salsify and truffle from Jason Atherton. For dessert, guests tucked into dishes such as sweet-potato cheesecake with clementine meringue, courtesy of Hibiscus’ Claude Bosi, or Hakkasan’s chocolate-orange sorbet with salted-chocolate and cardamom soup (pictured in preparation, below left).
As always, the dinner was followed by a chef auction, usually for dinner cooked in the bidder’s home. However, this year, some chefs – including Becker – upped the ante, offering the tempting prize of the chance to be first through the doors at hotly anticipated Oblix. Diners took the bait, forcing the final bid up to a staggering £36,000.
The Becker bid cemented the Zuma chef’s popularity with the public – Becker’s was also the highest bid in the 2012 auction, and last night he beat his own previous record of £26,000.
‘I've been involved with Who's Cooking Dinner for 11 years now and was pretty overwhelmed by last night’s bid,’ said Becker (pictured, below right, second from left, with – from left to right – Richard Corrigan, Mark Hix, Brett Graham and Peter Gordon). ‘But you have to remember that it’s not about me raising £36,000, it’s about us raising as much money as we can collectively – and I was just a small part of that.’
The second most-popular ‘lot’ was Marcus Wareing, who went for £28,000. Wareing was followed by Richard Corrigan and Mark Hix, who offered themselves as a joint lot, with bidders eventually settling at £20,000 to claim two courses at Corrigan’s Mayfair, followed by two courses at Hix, with a night on the town with both chefs thrown in afterwards.
Other chefs including Dinner’s Ashley Palmer-Watts, Murano’s Angela Hartnett and The Providores' Peter Gordon (who co-founded the event with restaurateur Chris Corbin) raised between £10,000-20,000 each, bringing the total raised this year to £381,000.
Leukaemia-survivor Corbin – who set up Who’s Cooking Dinner 14 years ago with Gordon, a bone-marrow donor – was thrilled with the result. ‘The 2013 event was an overwhelming, awe-inspiring and rewarding experience,’ he said. ‘The contributions from so many generous people all resulted in an astounding total for Leuka.’
To date, Who’s Cooking Dinner has raised £4.1m for Leuka, an organisation that funds research into a cure for leukaemia and other blood cancers. More than £250,000 of that total has been donated as bids for Rainer Becker since he started taking part.