On Saturday 25th September 2010, celebrity chef Brian Turner helped raise just over £4500 for the Calabash Trust at Strictly Come Dining 2010.
Held at the Pinewood Hotel in George Green, the event was organised by patissier and chocolatier Will Torrent and Francesca Bifolco, in order to raise funds for children in the townships of South Africa.
Last summer, Francesca travelled to Port Elizabeth with Calabash Trust UK where she saw the poverty and segregation that still exists in South Africa. She was able along with a group of friends to help teach the children, build playing fields and fix water problems. During her speech, Francesca commented;
“It was one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life and when we build the playing field the head teacher of the school told us, we had not just built a playing field, we had built them a stadium for kids to shine, discover fun, laughter and develop as amazing citizens. That’s why we are here tonight!”
This trip changed her life and Francesca approached Will Torrent to find an innovative way to raise funds - Strictly Come Dining 2010 was the answer!
The black tie evening saw over 100 guests enjoy a champagne reception sponsored by Laithwaites Wines and canapés created by Future chef 2009 winner Luke Thomas. After a very heartfelt welcome by Francesca, the Great British Menu style dinner began. Beginning with Luke Thomas’ Amuse bouche of Cauliflower Veloute with truffle foam and golden raisin, followed by a starter of Lincolnshire poacher with sweetcorn custard, salad and walnut toast created by The Pinewood Hotel’s Head Chef, Phil Currie.
After the sumptuous feaste started, the guests were told exactly where their money would go. Duncan Hewson (co founder of Calabash Trust UK) outlined that funds raised from Strictly Come Dining 2010 will be transferred to Calabash Trust South Africa where they will be used to fund the ongoing Lavela Project in the poverty stricken black township of Ramaphosa, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. This will ensure that at least for the next year the pre-school education and feeding programme for over 60 children each and every day, can continue. Speaking after the event, Duncan commented;
“What a cracking night. If ever an evening captured the laughter, warmth and generosity of friendship that epitomises both the Calabash Trust and more importantly the very people in the black townships we are all trying to assist then this was it. Good food, good music, good company and good people. I can only hope this is the beginning of a genuine friendship between two parts of the world where food can be the unifying theme."
Brian Turner CBE then presented the main course of Stuffed Saddle of English lamb, butter braised cabbage, fondant potatoes and parsley and mint gravy. Following the main course, Brian helped present the amazing prizes that were won, including a morning in the kitchens of The Waterside Inn and lunch, signed Chelsea and Arsenal Football club shirts, signed celebrity chef books, Robert Welch signature chef knives, comedy club tickets, racing days, beauty days and products and more. Brian commented;
“What we must remember is that we are very lucky here tonight, as we know tomorrow that we can put on a clean shirt and live comfortably, for those people in South Africa that isn’t the case and I hope tonight you will realise that and dig deep!”
The dessert was then prepared by Will Torrent and Alistair Birt (WorldSkills Calgary 2009 Medallion of Excellence Winner and Chocolatier at William Curley). A chocolate and raspberry celebration with ingredients sponsored by Ritter Couravaud. With petit fours sponsored by Town & Country, the stage was being set up for the entertainment. Featuring three of the top jazz musicians in the UK, Simon Colam on Piano, Dave Olney on Bass and Harold Fisher on Drums, Will donned his tuxedo and microphone instead of his chef whites and whisk to entertain the guests with songs inspired by Sinatra, Bublé, Cullum and Cole to the early hours of Sunday morning.
The event was a huge success and what was more important was that we doubled what we were aiming for financially and now know that we have gone a long way in helping sustain the feeding programme for nearly all of 2011.