THE services of some of London's top chefs were auctioned off for more than £77,000 at the second annual dinner to raise funds for a new leukaemia centre for London's Hammersmith Hospital last week.
Individual bids reaching £6,500 were made by guests for the chefs who were part of the super-brigade cooking for 190 £400-a-head guests at London's Berkeley hotel in aid of Leuka 2000.
The man behind the idea for the event, Peter Gordon, who recently left the Sugar Club and is looking for a suitable site for his own venture, declared the evening a great success. "I was amazed the auction raised so much money," he said. "The chefs are irrelevant [to the auction] really, it's just a nice way to give money to a good cause."
Gordon became involved in fund-raising for the charity after his sister was diagnosed with leukaemia three years ago. He added: "I never really thought it could become the event the committee has turned it into, and I hope it will be a regular event, at least until people become bored with chefs."
This year's dinner - sponsored by Starbucks Coffee - raised a total of £170,000 for the charity, £60,000 up on last year's event. As at the 1999 dinner, the participating chefs, many of whom were back for a second year, each cooked a different meal for a table of 10 and all gave their time, food and drink free.
Guests, including Fay Maschler, Stephen Fry, Loyd Grossman and designer Paul Smith, tucked into such dishes as foie gras and chilled mango salsa on green tea noodles with shiitake mushroom broth from Gordon; saddle of venison, pan-fried celeriac risotto, fricassée of morels from Stephen Terry; and bavarois of butternut squash, goats' milk ice-cream and black olive caramel from Heston Blumenthal.
The line up of chefs included: Peter Gordon (chef and food writer), Philip Howard (the Square), Albert Roux (Le Gavroche), Tim Tolley (Vong), Mark Hix and Des McDonald (the Ivy/Le Caprice), Mark Edwards (Nobu), Eric Chavot (the Capital), Sally Clarke (Clarke's), Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray (River Café), Giorgio Locatelli (Zafferano), Stephen Terry (Coast), Bruce Poole (Chez Bruce), Pascal Aussignac (Club Gascon), Heston Blumenthal (the Fat Duck), Richard Corrigan (Lindsay House), Pierre Koffmann (La Tante Claire), Rowley Leigh (Kensington Place), Rick Stein (the Seafood Restaurant), and Andrew Turner (restaurant 1837 at Brown's Hotel).
l Anyone wishing to make a donation to Leuka 2000 should contact Bettina Bradfield at the Lord Mayor's Appeal Office on 020 7726 2250.