While tomorrow night sees Heston Blumenthal, John Campbell, Marcus Wareing, Angela Hartnett and Phil Howard strut their stuff at South Downs College in aid of The Ark, an arm of Hospitality Action (HA) which focuses on educating people in the industry about the dangers of alcohol dependency and drug misuse, May brings a different kind of fundraiser for the HA in the form of a once-in-a-lifetime Great British Menu dinner involving all the finalists from the 2008 BBC2 hit series. Fancy attending? For more details, check out our Guide Girl blog.
The first day of the new year was an exciting one for Trunkwell Mansion House proprietor, Bob Walton. As well as formally taking over as the new chairman of the Restaurant Association, Bob was also made an MBE in the Queen’s New Year honours list.
Bob described the award as “a wonderful feeling, it’s made my Christmas wonderful.” But according to the Reading Evening Post, Bob’s local MP was not so thrilled. Frustrated that his ongoing campaign to secure a knighthood for Reading Football Club Chairman John Madejski was again unsuccessful, Martin Salter, the member for Reading West, said:
“It’s a weird and wonderful system when you can acquire an honour for running a restaurant and yet other people who have done many good things are still waiting in the queue.”
Mr Salter is clearly unaware of Walton’s four-year vice-chairmanship of the Restaurant Association, and his strong track record in promoting Hospitality to youngsters as a career of choice.
There were also MBEs for John Williams, Executive Head Chef at the Ritz and Chairman of the Academy of Culinary Arts; and Lesley Gardner, secretary to the chief executive of industry charity, Hospitality Action. Gardner has worked for HA for 37 years, during which she has been actively involved in all aspects of the charity.
HA chief executive Penny Moore was thrilled for Lesley, saying:
“Whilst Lesley isn’t employed in a welfare or beneficiary support role, she has continually taken it upon herself to become actively involved in the beneficiaries’ welfare in her own time. This is way over and above what she is required to do. She is a truly remarkable individual and I am absolutely delighted, in this, our 170th year, that she has achieved public recognition through this great honour.”
Congratulations to Bob, John and Lesley from all at Caterersearch.
In a recent blog I reported on how Marco Pierre White, AA Gill and Tom Parker Bowles had linked up for a photoshoot in support of industry charity, Hospitality Action. this week’s Mail on Sunday published the fruits of their labour.
The three agreed to pose together for the latest HA awareness advert. This ongoing series of adverts depicts top chefs suffering the sort of life-altering set-backs often experienced by beneficiaries of HA funding. Previous ads have portrayed Raymond Blanc being led by a guide dog, Heston Blumenthal living rough and Anton Edelmann languishing in a hospital bed.
Once they had finished the shoot, AA Gill and Marco went out to lunch at a restaurant Gill was reviewing for his Sunday Times column, still in full tramps’ outift. In the column – which is well worth a read for a first-hand account of the day – Gill describes being “dressed up in a vomitous suit by Detritus and Garbage and a stinking, slimy shirt and dead man’s shoes. My face was distressed and my ankles blackened, and snot was rubbed into my hair.”
Last Friday I witnessed the unlikely spectacle of Marco Pierre White and Sunday Times restaurant critic AA Gill comparing leg hair, and saw a member of the aristocracy dressed as a tramp – all courtesy of Hospitality Action.
White and Gill were joined by food columnist and son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Tom Parker Bowles at the shooting of the latest Hospitality Action awareness adverts. This ongoing series of adverts depicts top chefs suffering the sort of life-altering set-backs often experienced by beneficiaries of HA funding. Previous ads have portrayed Raymond Blanc being led by a guide dog, Heston Blumenthal living rough and Anton Edelmann languishing in a hospital bed.
Gill arrived on set first, sporting a stained and raggedy jacket and trouser combo that looked as if he had lost one of his review-lunches down the front of it. “I borrowed one of your suits, Marco”, he claimed, when the Hell’s Kitchen supremo appeared. Marco exemplified Oxford Street doorway-chic, his Robinson Crusoe-style trousers exposing his ankles and calves. After a few moments spent gauging who had the fuzziest legs, they slumped onto a park bench, vodka bottles in hand, singing “underneath the arches” and laughing like drains.
Only last week, Gill wrote in the Sunday Times: “I always book under a false name, but I never wear a disguise. Getting into a wig and a costume and talking in a funny voice to eat dinner is weird and way too self-obsessed – it’s the sort of thing they do in America.” According to HA chief exec Penny Moore, he broke that rule last Friday, when he and Marco left the shoot to review a nearby restaurant in full down-and -out garb. Considering that he had sportingly given up a day of his life to support HA, I think we can forgive him …
Tom Parker Bowles took longer to emerge from make-up than his fellow tramps. “It’s hard to make an aristo look rough”, quipped Marco.
Look out for the resulting adverts in future issues of Caterer and Hotelkeeper.
Nick Hornby would have enjoyed last Friday’s Hospitality Action Ball at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
Novelist and Arsenal fanatic Hornby once described the perfect football match as having as many goals as possible, a noisy crowd and a punch-up.
The HA Ball managed to net three goals: awarding the companies and individuals that have done most to support it in the past year, giving guests a great night out and raising a magnificent £100.000. Certainly, the crowd was good-naturedly raucous. And yes, there was even a fight – two dinner-jacketed alpha males squared up to one another towards the end of the evening, giving a whole new meaning to Hospitality Action.
Well done to the GM of the Dorchester Hotel, Chris Cowdray, who managed to pull the men apart with the deft decisiveness of a Govan landlord at kicking-out time.
Well done, too, to Penny Moore and all at HA for a great evening.
Do you know the name of the captain of the 2002 Winter Olympics women’s curling team? If so, we could done with you on our team at last night’s Question of Sport fundraiser in aid of Hospitality Action.
The event was held at Wembley Stadium, whose Delaware North catering team produced a great tuna nicoise starter and a perfectly pink lamb main. Delaware North Companies UK MD Simon Dobson opted not to apply the one-hour blackout rule adhered to by many London restaurateurs between 9 and 10pm last night in support of climate change campaign, Lights Out London. Just as well – the vertiginous escalators at Wembley are hard enough to negotiate at the best of times, never mind by candlelight.
A great crowd turned up. I saw Ian Styles from Elior, who gamely brought along a real sportsman, Wasps and England rugby player Simon Shaw. David Field from Nestle was there; Malcom Plows from Coca Cola, Andy Kemp of 3663 and Arena, Peter Hazzard …
In the event, the Coca Cola team won the event, but more importantly, £82k was raised for Hospitality Action.
By the way, the name of the curling captain was Rhona Martin.
I’m off to the Hospitality Action Question of Sport dinner at Wembley Stadium tonight. The idea is that guests get wined and dined, check out the stadium’s makeover and test their knowledge of sporting trivia, while the industry’s charity makes pots of cash.
I’ll report back tomorrow on what goes on. Meanwhile, to get in the mood, a few of us have racked our brains to contrive a ‘top ten’ of sportstars with hospitality connections.
Can you think of any we’ve missed?
Gordon Ramsay seemed set for a career-making sign-up to Rangers FC, before a cruciate knee ligament changed his plans. Lucky he could cook a bit …
Terry Venables Current England assistant coach, El Tel once owned a nightclub called Scribes West on Kensington HIgh Street.
Lee Dixon Former Fat Duck shareholder Lee Dixon still co-owns the Riverside Brasserie on Monkey Island.
Frankie Dettori This year’s Derby winner lent his name to the chain of restaurants he launched in partnership with Marco Pierre White.
David Coulthard co-owns Monaco’s “chic, affordable and accessible” Columbus Hotel with Malmaison mastermind, Ken McCullough.
Sir Alex Ferguson managed Fergie’s pub after his playing career ended. Downstairs bar, the Elbow Room was apparently named in honour of his robust style of play.
Together, Sir Ian Botham and Alan Lamb (AKA Beefy and Lamby), are the face of British meat.
Shoeless Joe’s Bars may not have worked out, but Victor Ubogu now runs a corporate hospitality company firm that’s got a packed summer and autumn schedule.
Roberto di Matteo followed his Chelsea career by opening two restaurants, Friends and Baraonda, a stone’s throw from Stamford Bridge.
(… to sound of barrel being scraped …) Christian minister and erstwhile heavyweight boxing champion of the world, George Foreman is now making the world a thinner place, thanks to his Lean, Mean, Fat-reducing Grilling Machine.