Earlier this month four leading chefs took time out to cook for a fundraising dinner at Hampshire's South Downs College in aid of industry charities Hospitality Action and the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation. Amanda Afiya reports, with photographs by Peter Kay, chief executive of the Sporting Chance Clinic
This year alone, Peter Kay, chief executive of Tony Adams's Sporting Chance Clinic, and Michael Quinn, founder of the Ark Foundation, have given talks to an incredible 10,000 students in their quest to educate young people about the dangers of alcohol and other drug dependencies.
Among the venues to benefit from those talks was South Downs College, and, in appreciation, last month a team of students from the college worked with four of Britain's foremost chefs to prepare a dinner for Hospitality Action (HA), the Ark's parent charity. The chefs - Heston Blumenthal, David Nicholls, John Williams and Jake Watkins - committed to cooking a course each for 80 guests at a dinner to raise funds for HA and the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.
With the help of Iain Baillie, senior course manager for professional cookery courses, and part-time lecturer Sean Denny, the event was hosted by Gerry Shurman, head of hospitality, catering and travel at South Downs, while front of house was managed by visiting managers Bunmi Okolosi of Conran's Paternoster Chop House, Fernanda Carvalho of the Hinds Head, Bray, and recovering addict Chris Mordue, who is manager at Fifteen, London.
Nicholls commented: "We must try to support people in the industry who fall victim to these illnesses - and they are illnesses. Initially, of course, it is self-inflicted; after time, however, they cannot kick the habit. Family, friends and colleagues all suffer terrible disruption. We need to do something to help those who can't help themselves."
Williams, too, echoed Nicholls's sentiments and recalls the first time he heard Kay speak. "When he was describing his life, I realised I had witnessed a similar situation with my father. Peter was totally inspirational, and if people can learn from him, then we should help in his quest with as much vigour as he gives himself."
The dinner, and some previous fundraising conducted by the students, raised almost £10,000, which HA director Penny Moore agreed to split equally between the charity and the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation. "It's fantastic for the industry to see leading chefs working with the education sector for such worthy causes," she said.
Canapés: beetroot-cured salmon on blinis with crème fraîche; seared venison, quince chutney; chicken and lobster chipolata; twice-baked smoked Wedmore cheese soufflé; caviar, sour cream on blinis (created by Iain Baillie and Sean Denny, South Downs College)
Champagne Lacourte-Guillemart - 1er cru, Ecueil, Montagne de Reims
Château de Parenchère Bordeaux Clairette 2005
Roulade of foie gras, acidic mango and truffle bean salad (created by David Nicholls, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London)
Pan-fried scallops, caramelised cauliflower beignets, cauliflower panna cotta, pancetta and aged balsamic (created by David Nicholls)
Château Lartigue Sauvignon Bordeaux 2005
Roast fillet of halibut and langoustine with spiced carrot purée and lemon verbena (created by John Williams, the Ritz, London)
Louis Latour Ardèche Chardonnay 2004
Suckling pig, cooked two ways, with cèpes and truffles (created by Jake Watkins, JSW, Petersfield)
Château de Parenchère, Cuvée Raphael Gazaniol 1998
Mango and Douglas fir purée with a bavarois of lychee and mango, blackcurrant sorbet, blackcurrant and green peppercorn jelly (created by Heston Blumenthal, the Fat Duck, Bray)
Première de Loupiac AC 2004
Edible wrappers, aerated chocolate bars, whisky gums (created by Heston Blumenthal)
Busnel Calvados Pays d'Auge Reserve Prestige, 12 ans