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By Tania Ballantine, News and Online Editor
You’d think it would be a recipe for disaster: take 20 of the capital’s finest chefs, ask them to share kitchen space and each deliver a meal for a table of 10, then auction them off to the highest bidder. But on Monday 8 March, the annual ‘Who’s Cooking Dinner?’ black-tie event at The Langham went off without a hitch, and saw London’s finest culinary talent pull together to raise funds for Hammersmith Hospital’s leukaemia centre.
Chefs were only allocated to tables on the night itself, so while some found themselves cooking for affable groups of City high-fliers, others realised their dishes would be coming under scrutiny from the likes of Nigella Lawson, Sir Stuart Rose, Cilla Black and Jeremy Clarkson (who later leapt into action as an impromptu raffle caller).
After dinner and a light-hearted performance from Catherine Tate, most of the chefs – including a few that put themselves up ‘for sale’ at the very last minute – were auctioned off to cook a 10-person dinner at the winning bidders' homes. While Zuma’s Rainer Becker took the highest bid, of £26,000, Sally Clarke, who normally keeps a low profile at her popular Kensington restaurant Clarke’s, pulled in an equally impressive £24,000, to much cheering and applause. Late entries from Giorgio Locatelli and Richard Corrigan (pictured, above) helped boost the coffers further, while the Galvin brothers, on hearing that the auction’s total was only a few thousand shy of the quarter million mark, interrupted bidding to offer their services to the two highest bidders, bringing in an additional £10,000.
In total, £380,000 was raised from ticket sales, the raffle and the chef auction, all of which will help in the fight against leukaemia, the most common cancer in children. Since launching in 1999, this event has raised £3.1m for the cause, not including Monday's proceeds.
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.whoscookingdinner.com.
Rainer Becker (Zuma) - £26,000
Sally Clarke (Clarke’s) - £24,000
Mark Edwards (Nobu) - £22,000
Tom Aikens (Tom Aikens) - £20,000
Chris & Jeff Galvin (Galvin la Chapelle) - £20,000 (£10,000 x 2)
Julian O’Neill (The Wolseley) - £20,000
Richard Corrigan (Corrigan’s Mayfair) - £16,000
Angela Hartnett (Murano) - £16,000
Giorgio Locatelli (Locanda Locatelli) - £16,000
Claude Bosi (Hibiscus) - £15,000
Michele Lombardi (Harry's Bar) - £15,000
Peter Gordon (The Providores) - £14,000
Mark Hix (Hix) - £14,000
Jason Atherton (Maze) - £12,000
Tong Chee Hwee (Hakkasan) - £12,000
Tim Hughes (Le Caprice) - £10,000
For a behind-the-scenes look at the events of the evening, see Square Meal Lifestyle, out mid-April 2010.