Top chefs and restaurateurs played the UK’s food critics at their own game last night, as they watched how well they coped in the kitchen when the tables were turned at Action Against Hunger’s Too Many Critics event. Great British Chefs were there to see if food cooked & served by Faye Maschler, Giles Coren, Jay Rayner, Tom Parker Bowles, Bill Knott and Charles Campion amongst others stood up to their own exacting standards.
Too Many Critics, held at London’s Hawksmoor Guildhall restaurant, saw nine of the country’s most prolific food critics swap their pens for chefs’ whites and take to the kitchen to cook a three course meal for 120 guests, comprising of award winning chefs like Bruno Loubet & Pierre Koffmann and food industry heavyweights.
After years of writing about other people’s food, the critics were given a taste of their own medicine as their culinary efforts were streamed live into the dining room, for the guests to sit back and enjoy. Jay Rayner said: “I enjoyed putting on the chef’s whites and bandana - it’s a look I rock! It’s been a good vibe all evening. If we can engage food lovers to bring an awareness of food security (social responsibility in the food world), that has to be a good thing. A lot of people have eaten very well tonight, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t thought of those who can’t.” The evening raised almost £40,000 for Action Against Hunger.
Following a lovely Champagne Taittinger reception we were taken to Hawksmoor’s dining room for the three course meal. Starters was a delicious smoked eel dish with watercress and beetroot, served with bread freshly baked by Lucas Hollweg. Then each critic came round to our tables to carve the main event - roast beef provided by luxury butcher Ginger Pig.
Charles Campion carved at our particular table. He proved to be an expert carver and the huge slabs of roast beef were hugely tasty and tender.
Charles Campion had also brewed his own beer which was served at the reception and also added to the batter of the giant sized Yorkshire Puddings.
Dessert was prepared by veteran Evening Standard food critic Fay Maschler, a delicious rhubarb crumble with a rhubarb custard.
As well as the excellent meal there was a live auction of “money can’t buy prizes”, including a chocolate making experience with Paul .A. Young and an exclusive day with the Redemption Brewing Company.
All funds raised from the evening will go towards humanitarian organisation Action Against Hunger’s life-saving programmes around the world.
Pierre Koffmann, of Koffmann’s at The Berkeley said: “Too Many Critics has been a very nice evening and it has been great to see so many familiar faces. It was a perfect meal and our goal has been to raise money for a great cause to help the fight against hunger.”
Action Against Hunger’s Head of Food Related Fundraising, Emma Cullingford, said: “It has been an amazing evening and the critics have done a fantastic job to prepare top class food for the guests, despite the banter flying across the room! We are thrilled to have been joined by so many prestigious figures from the food industry, showing their support for Action Against Hunger and our life-saving work around the world. Our Love Food Give Food appeal is all about turning passion for food into action against hunger, and Too Many Critics has certainly achieved that.”
You can see more pictures from the Too Many Critics event on Great British Chefs Flickr set here. Thanks to Action Against Hunger for arranging such a great event and to Hawksmoor, all of the sponsors and particularly the critics for preparing a fantastic meal.
Do you have a favourite food critic? Which food writer or TV foodie would you most like to serve you at a dining table? We’re discussing this over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.