Relais & Châteaux Dîner des Grands Chefs 2013 at Old Billingsgate
Last night saw 46 of Relais & Châteaux’s Grands Chefs, acknowledged leaders in their field, gathered at Old Billingsgate in London to create the annual Dîner des Grands Chefs, the third stage in a culinary world tour. Under the theme The World’s Kitchen by The Thames and working in teams of three, the Grands Chefs created 15 unique five-course menus paired with the finest Pommery vintage champagne for an audience of 600 gourmet guests.
Film stars, politicians, musicians, business luminaries and celebrities came to experience an inimitable gastronomic journey and witness live culinary theatre – for one night only – by some of the world’s greatest chefs.
Old Billingsgate, the original London Fish Market, was transformed into a bucolic English country scene with grassy paths and artful displays of herbs, vegetables and flowers. Among the tables, cooking pods named after traditional British produce such as Golden Beetroot, Cornish Artichoke and Yorkshire Rhubarb were positioned so as to give the connoisseur audience an optimum view of the meal in the making.
After a Pommery champagne reception, the dîner began with Raymond Blanc, Claude Bosi and Andrew Fairlie leading the Relais & Châteaux Grands Chefs tribe to their allocated cooking pods.
Dream teams of chefs included an all-female line-up (Hélène Darroze of Restaurant Hélène Darroze in France, Annie Féolde of Enoteca Pinchiorri in Italy, and Margot Janse of Le Quartier Français in South Africa) and a “Loiseau” signature team (Patrick Bertron of Le Relais Bernard Loiseau in France, Michael Caines of Gidleigh Park in England, and Hiroshi Yamagushi of Kobe Kitano in Japan). At the Table d’Honneur, Relais & Châteaux International President Jaume Tàpies hosted 20 very special guests on a magnificent banquet style table, Raymond Blanc and Gary Jones of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in England teamed up with Andrew Fairlie of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles in Scotland and Patrick Henriroux of La Pyramide near Lyon in France.
Each team prepped, cooked and presented their creations working with seasonal local produce to demonstrate and marry their combined talent and individual skills. The meal was accompanied by the finest of Pommery champagnes including Cuvée Louise Pommery Rosé Millésime 2000, Cuvée Louise Millésime 1990 and Cuvée Louise Pommery Millésime 1999.
At the end of the dinner, Lord Dalmeny, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s UK, conducted a live auction and provoked a furious bidding war for six unique experiential prizes. Each lot was exclusively created by Relais & Châteaux and their event partners. They included the ultimate “Road to Happiness” of 31 overnight stays in different Relais & Châteaux hotels across the UK and Ireland, the most exquisite and prestigious experience in Champagne with Pommery and the ultimate Silversea cruise. The night raised over £100,000 from the live and silent auctions with all proceeds going to the Grand Chefs’ chosen charity Action Against Hunger, the international humanitarian organisation committed to ending child hunger.
Relais & Châteaux paid tribute to the Grands Chefs, inviting each to the stage for a medal presentation to rapturous applause. The chefs returned to their pods to sign the menus for every guest to treasure as a memento of a special evening.
After the performance, all 46 chefs headed for a wrap-up party at The Corinthia to celebrate and prolong London’s gastronomic event of the year.
Commenting on the success of the evening, president of Relais & Châteaux Jaume Tàpies said: “Passion, extraordinary produce from Great Britain, world’s best culinary talents and exceptional generosity were just some of the ingredients that contributed to create an unforgettable event. 46 Relais & Châteaux Grands Chefs came from all around the world to celebrate London as a leading gourmet capital. By cooking together for passionate food lovers they demonstrated that good food combined with friendship is the best recipe for happiness.”
The editorial unit
Photos: David Benett