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Last night, 20 chefs from London’s hottest restaurants, including Pollen Street Social, Zuma and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, cooked at an exclusive dinner that raised £330,000 for Leuka, a charity that funds scientists working towards a cure for leukaemia and other blood cancers.
Now in its 13th year, Who’s Cooking Dinner? 2012 saw groups of 10 diners at 20 tables enjoy a four-course meal with matching wines, cooked for them by one of the guest chefs – who included Tom Aikens, Richard Corrigan, Philip Howard, Marcus Wareing and Bruce Poole.
The chefs’ menus included scores of signature dishes. Ashley Palmer-Watts delivered Dinner’s iconic meat fruit to ecstatic diners; Pierre Koffmann’s feather-light pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice cream was another big hit; while Tom Aikens’ table enjoyed the standout dish at his relaunched flagship – roast foie gras with thyme sabayon, fried crumbs and burnt onions.
Each table at the 2012 event – which took place at the Four Seasons Hotel London on Park Lane – cost £6,000. In addition, at the end of the meal, diners were able to place bids for any of the chefs to cook dinner for 10 in their home on a date of their choice. The bidding process always fires chefs’ competitive streaks as they watch the outcome of the auction.
Zuma’s Rainer Becker scooped the highest bid of the night – raising a whopping £26,000 for Leuka. The second most in-demand chef was Mark Hix, who earned the charity £16,000. Other popular chefs included Nobu’s Mark Edwards and Clare Smyth of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, who each went for £15,000, although each bid raked in a highly respectable five-figure sum for Leuka.
In a speech, The Wolseley’s Chris Corbin, chairman of Who’s Cooking Dinner?, praised London’s ‘amazing family of chefs and restaurateurs’ who continue to support the event and its chosen charity. Corbin’s connection to the charity is a personal one – in 1990, he was diagnosed with leukaemia, and had to wait four years for a suitable donor.
However, fusion chef Peter Gordon (The Providores, Kopapa) was the brainchild of the event. After successfully donating bone marrow to his sister when she was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1994, he set up the project to help other families battling the disease.
Gordon said: ‘I must give a very special thank you to everyone involved in the event. Our chefs come with their pots and pans, trays of ingredients, and back- and front-of-house teams, then duck and dive in the kitchens to create exquisite dishes. They volunteer their time and work tirelessly to ensure that all runs smoothly.’
To date, Who’s Cooking Dinner? has raised more than £3.7m for Leuka, with all the profits going directly to the charity.