Chris Corbin, partner in the Corbin & King restaurant empire, is chairman of the board of trustees of leukaemia research charity Leuka. He tells Katherine Alano how the Who's Cooking Dinner? event has become such a significant part of the charity's fundraising activities
Leuka's genesis goes right back to an appeal in 1998 to raise funds to build a treatment centre for leukaemia at the Hammersmith hospital, where I was treated in 1994 for chronic myeloid leukaemia.
WCD? was founded by chef Peter Gordon and co-ordinated by myself, to contribute to Leuka's appeal. After the successful completion of the centre, WCD? continued to raise funds for Leuka, as it was so warmly welcomed by the London chef and restaurant community.
Tell us more about Leuka.
Leuka's main trust is as a research charity; our former chairman, John Goldman, was the head of haematology at Hammersmith hospital, and pioneered leukaemia treatments. After his death a few years ago, I took over as chairman and continued his work. We now have 15 John Goldman fellowships, supporting young scientists in the blood cancer field. We also sponsor some research projects and some clinical trials.
How much has the dinner raised?
Very close to £7m!
What kind of night can the guests expect?
WCD? is the most exciting of the chef charity dinners. Some 25 premier chefs will all cook a different four-course meal for one table of 10 people, with all the tables receiving their food at the same time. It is an extraordinary military manoeuvre. The 250 guests will only find out who is cooking their dinner on the night as it is revealed by a random draw at the start of the evening.
Can you share any highlights or special moments from the 20 years of the event?
The majority of funds raised are by chefs volunteering themselves to be auctioned to cook at individual's homes. Some years ago, Rainer Becker from Zuma agreed that when the bidding reached £50,000, he would cook for both bidders - therefore raising £100,000. It was a truly altruistic gesture.
Who's Cooking Dinner?
Who's taking part -The 25 chefs include: •Alain Ducasse, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
•Angela Hartnett, Murano
•Tom Kerridge, the Hand & Flowers
•Claire Smyth, Core by Clare Smyth
•Jeremy Lee, Quo Vadis
•Mark Edwards, Nobu
•Phil Howard, Elystan Street
To see the full list, go to: www.whoscookingdinner.com
How to book
This year's event takes place on 4 March at the Dorchester hotel, London. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.whoscookingdinner.com for more informationGet The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).
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