Some of the most famous chefs in the country were at the Four Seasons London last week for one of the industry's favourite charity events - the Leuka dinner. Joanna Wood watched them raise a total of £450,000
It was all hands to the pumps (or rather, the stoves) in the kitchens of the Four Seasons London 10 days ago, when 20 of the finest culinary talents working in and around London gathered to raise money for Hammersmith Hospital's research and care into leukaemia.
The Who's Cooking Dinner event, also known as Leuka, was first staged just before the millennium and is the brainchild of New Zealander Peter Gordon, chef-proprietor, of London's Providores, whose own sister (happily now recovered) received treatment for leukaemia at the hospital.
As usual, each chef had a table of 10 to cook for (each table cost £6,000) although vegetarian diners were looked after by event caterers Word of Mouth. However, this didn't stop the occasional glitch - "no shellfish, no shellfish" was a mantra that rang out across Bruce Poole's corner of the kitchen at the onset of the cooking process: tricky, as his first course had prawn tempura in a support role.
Besides Poole (2006 Chef Award winner at the Cateys and chef-proprietor of Chez Bruce in south London), Gordon was, of course, among those dancing around various corners of the Four Seasons kitchen. Also on hand were Leuka old-timers Phil Howard and Mark Hix, while new boy Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House in Cambridge developed a neat side-step around the team from Angela Hartnett's Menu at the Connaught.
At the end of the evening, a number of the chefs put themselves up for "auction" - committing themselves to cook a dinner party for their successful bidder at some time in the next 12 months. Here's a flavour of the evening for you all…
- Jason Atherton, Maze £12,000
- Rainer Becker and Colin Clague, Zuma, £22,000
- Antonin Bonnet, the Greenhouse, £14,000
- Sally Clarke, Clarke's £15,000
- Mark Edwards, Nobu £18,000*
- Chris and Jeff Galvin, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, £11,000
- Brett Graham, the Ledbury, £19,000
- Peter Gordon, Providores, £14,000
- Angela Hartnett, Menu at the Connaught, £12,500
- Mark Hix, £12,000
- Phil Howard, the Square, £20,000
- Tong Chee Hwee, Hakkasan, £20,000
- Atul Kochhar, Benares, £11,000
- Francesco Mazzei, St Alban, £12,000
* in absentia - Edwards was not cooking on the night but generously agreed to be auctioned.
Jason Atherton, Maze Pascal Aussignac, Club Gascon Antonin Bonnet, the Greenhouse Colin Clague, Zuma Sally Clarke, Clarke's Daniel Clifford, Midsummer House Richard Corrigan, Lindsay House Chris and Jeff Galvin, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe Peter Gordon, the Providores Brett Graham, the Ledbury Rose Gray, the River Café Henry Harris, Racine Angela Hartnett, Menu at the Connaught Mark Hix and Kevin Gratton, Scott's Phil Howard, the Square Atul Kochhar, Benares Francesco Mazzei, St Alban Bruce Poole, Chez Bruce Mark Sargeant, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's Tong Chee Hwee, Hakkasan.