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This Thursday (20 September), chefs including Marcus Wareing, front-of-house staff such as Galvin at Windows’ general manager Fred ‘Sugar Fred The Stinger’ Sirieix, and one lone food critic will slug it out in a series of charity boxing matches.
Last week, testosterone was already flying as the participants took part in an official weigh-in and were finally paired with their boxing partners after months of training.
Favourite to win is Wareing (pictured, right), who competed at amateur level from the age of 11 to 18. His opponent is Sirieix, Rumble’s organiser. There was plenty of trash-talking as the boxers sized each other up and showed their hunger to win.
Wareing and Sirieix squared up to each other on stage, forehead to forehead, when their names were announced. ‘I haven’t boxed since I was 18,’ said Wareing, eyeing his opponent confidently, before adding menacingly, ‘…I can’t wait.’ Sirieix responded with a quote from Shakespeare and a punch in the air: ‘Let Hercules himself do what he may / The cat will mew and the dog will have his day.’
Noticeable by their absence were many of London’s best-known food writers and restaurant critics. The only journalist to accept the offer to compete in the ring was Restaurant magazine’s deputy editor Stefan Chomka (pictured fighting, below left), who will fight El Pirata de Tapas’ head chef Omar Allibhoy.
‘I’m physically stronger and mentally stronger than Stefan,’ quipped Allibhoy when asked why he thought he would beat his opponent.
‘I’m sure Omar will be generous with me in the ring – after all, chefs are known for being mild-mannered and even-tempered in the kitchen,’ teased Chomka in reponse. His preferred tactic? ‘I want to pull Omar’s hair.’
Another contender is Master Sommelier Matt ‘The Loose Cannon’ Wilkin, who will be up against La Bécasse’s Will ‘Mad Dog’ Holland. ‘My wife doesn’t know I’m doing this,’ revealed Wilkin. ‘She thinks I’m doing the Full Monty or having an affair – I keep coming home from work with bruises. She’s very suspicious. She will find out on the night.’
The event will take place next Thursday at the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall – and a live streaming of the matches will be screened at Aura Mayfair. To book tickets to the live screening, call 020 7605 7733.
Tickets cost £35 and money raised on the night – plus the money raised in advance by each participant – will be donated to Galvin’s Chance, a training programme that offers restaurant-industry apprenticeships to disadvantaged 18-to-24 year olds.