So last night was the foodie night of my life (and one that's unlikely to be repeated). I went to the Kai We Care charity dinner
in aid of the victims of the New Zealand earthquakes. Thought up and organised by Mat Follas, Masterchef 2009 winner and owner/head chef of The Wild Garlic
. By the power of twitter and other social networking alone, he managed to recruit a brigade of top chefs (five with Michelin stars, all of them with various awards), suppliers and FOH staff who all gave their time and wares for free to stage a 9-course dinner for 200(!) people. Considering they only had four weeks and the event went on with barely a glitch, that was an amazing achievement.
So far, they managed to raise £60,000 (tickets and auction) with most likely more to come.
At £150 a ticket, this wasn't exactly cheap but where can you get a 9-course dinner with matching wines
with each course cooked by a group of top chefs? Nowhere. You'd pay at least that much for a normal tasting menu at a high class restaurant in London and then you'd get only one chef. As I was looking for a birthday treat to myself, this was perfect and I wasn't disappointed.
At the reception at the rather splendid venue of 1 Moorgate Place
there was kiwi champagne (which I actually liked!) and canapees: cured salmon/cucumber "fruit pastilles" (sweet/savoury, very fresh), port and Spenwood pencil (also nice) and the highlight, Pork crackling toffee apple (basically a ball of apple coated in a crunchy but not too sweet crumb, fantastic). No photos of these because the reception was cramped and it would have been a bit awkward. I'll pass on links to the official photos when they're out.
Then into the main hall with large, round tables, seating 9 people each. On my table were a group of Irish people (who all knew Dave Ahern) and a couple from Essex. Was quite a friendly table. ( Food and wine: )
There was also entertainment in the form of a Maori dance group who performed a variety of dances and songs, very interesting and also amusing.
Throughout the evening the auction was held and raised a huge amount of money, with most lots going for well over a grand, some for multiples. I held my own for a while on the bid on the tasting menu for four with wines at Alimentum but it got too rich for me quite quickly. I think it went for 750 or 800 at the end.
By the time I had finished the petit fours, it was already well past 11 so I said good-bye and made my way back to Kings Cross where my train was already waiting. I was finally home at about 1:40.
It was a stunning evening and a great success for a worthwhile cause. Would go again in a heartbeat. Being in the presence of so many high class chefs, who all seemed to be really nice people and not as stuck up as you'd expect them to be, was fantastic.
I'm glad I'd taken the 50mm f1.4 because the light was very dim so I still had to set the D700 to ISO3200 for the food shots. Therefore, the DOF is a bit too shallow but I have to live with that. I hope Richard Budd
had a proper setup somewhere.
ETA: Richard Budd's superb photos are here
(mostly food and chefs/kitchen and performers) and even more photos by Philippa Edge here