On Sunday 18th November, the Diwali Banquet returned for a third exciting year. This gala dinner united 6 of the country's top Indian (and this year Mauritian!) chefs, who prepared a one-of-a-kind meal for our lucky guests, raising more than £34,000 for Action Against Hunger's international work. As part of our Love Food Give Food appeal, these funds can be Aid matched by the UK Government, enabling us to reach even more children, families and communities with emergency support and long term sustainable solutions to hunger.
This year's chefs were Vivek Singh and Abdul Yaseen of the Cinnamon Club and Kitchen, Sriram Aylur of Michelin starred Quilon this year's Masterchef winner, Shelina Permalloo, Head Chef at Benares Sameer Taneja and food writer and broadcaster Anjum Anand.
Guests were welcomed on the night by a Champagne Taittinger reception, featuring delicious canapés, prepared by the Cinnamon Kitchen's head chef, Abdul Yaseen.
The evening was complemented by a silent auction using state of the art bidding equipment and live entertainment from the acclaimed tabla player Mitel Purohit with his band S-Funk (sponsored by Vira International), while the meal itself was be accompanied by Kingfisher Beer and delicious wines.
Hardeep is a regular host on Channel 5’s hugely popular current affairs show, The Wright Stuff and has been a regular reporter on BBC1’s The One Show and a guest on BBC 1's Question Time, and This Week with Andrew Neil. For Channel 4 he has written and presented the BAFTA Award winning In Search of the Tartan Turban, the critically acclaimed and award winning Hardeep Does... and the seminal gambling series 50 Says You'll Watch This.
As a broadcaster Hardeep has been involved in numerous series across BBC Radio 2,3,4 and 5. Last year he recorded the critically acclaimed Hardeep Singh Kohli’s Alternative Census for Radio 4 and has just finished broadcasting Great British Faith on BBC Radio 2. His first book Indian Takeaway was nominated for an Independent Book Award and he has written about food for Olive, Observer Food Monthly, The Spectator, The Times and The Sunday Times. As a journalist, Hardeep has written extensively for multiple major publications including Spectator Magazine (where he is a contributing editor), The Times and the Independent on Sunday.
Mitel Purohit is a renowned tabla player, and S-Funk optimises the growing trend in Indian cultural crossover. Incorporating elements from North Indian Hindustani, funk, jazz, rare groove and rock genres, S-Funk is the cutting edge ensemble that is creating shockwaves in the music industry.
Mitel and S-Funk's performance has been generously sponsored by Vira International.
Classically trained in India with the acclaimed Oberoi Group, Vivek has always believed that as with other creative forms, Indian cuisine should evolve over time. By designing from the very outset a menu based wholly on modern Indian dishes, Vivek placed himself firmly at the forefront of the movement to take Indian cuisine ‘beyond authenticity’.
He has authored 3 bestselling cookbooks and is a familiar face on TV, with regular appearances on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and UKTV’s Market Kitchen.
Following up on the success of the Cinnamon Club, Vivek and his team launched Cinnamon Kitchen and Anise in the City in 2008 and Cinnamon Soho in 2012.
From the first time Sriram stepped into his father’s kitchen, it was the beginning of a long quest for passion and knowledge of food. “I remember being fascinated by the smell and aromas which used to come from the kitchen – it was my first love”.
Sriram started his culinary studies in 1984, and by 1989 had joined the luxury hotel group Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, becoming executive chef at Gateway Hotel Bangalore. By 1997, the Telegraph ranked him one of the top 5 chefs in India. In 1999, Sriram opened the Quilon Restaurant in Westminster which achieved a Michelin Star in 2008.
His vision about the food – like everything else in the world – is progressive. Progression is logical in this world and true with everything. Therefore, the Quilon’s menu is an amalgamation of Ethnic and Progressive dishes for example – Black Cod, Asparagus and Mange Tout and Lobster butter pepper.
After being crowned the winner of MasterChef 2012 Shelina Permalloo has been catapulted into the culinary world. She wowed the audience and the judges with her creative Mauritian dishes, and is now embarking on her career combining her talent and passion as an up and coming chef.
Born in Southampton to her Mauritian parents, Shelina learned her skills and knowledge of Mauritian cooking from spending time in the kitchen with her mother and aunt. She also used her cooking as a way of making herself feel closer to her culture and heritage, having never lived in Mauritius herself. Along with this she was able to take some fundamental advice from her Italian husband, whom she met in 2007, about the art of European cooking, which is also reflected in her favourite dishes today.
Shelina lives in London with her husband, and has already received considerable interest from the TV and publishing world.
Sameer is Head Chef at Benares, where, as Atul Kochhar's right hand man, he serves Michelin starred modern Indian cuisine with a contemporary British twist.
Sameer has extensive experience in preparing both Indian and European cuisine, having started his career with a Taj Group apprenticeship in Mangalore. He then worked at the prestigious Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur, before moving to the UK in 2003 to develop his career further.
Sameer has worked at such notable establishments as the 3 Michelin starred Waterside Inn, Restaurant One-o-One, Brasserie Joël and Koffmann's, learning from notable culinary figures including Alain Roux and Pierre Koffmann. Sameer started in his role at Benares in April 2012.
Anjum Anand is regarded as the queen of healthy, contemporary Indian cookery. Her first six-part prime-time BBC2 series Indian Food Made Easy aired in 2007 to a fanfare of positive publicity. Anjum was described as ‘the Indian Nigella’ and a wonderful advocate for simple, colourful, low-fat Indian food. She has written a number of successful cookbooks published by Quadrille Publishing, including her first television tie-in book, Indian Food Made Easy (2007), which remained in the bestseller list for eight weeks and has sold more than 275,000 copies. Anjum was voted Personality of the Year at the 2009 British Curry Awards and her first book Indian Every Day was published by Headline in 2003 and remains an Indian cookery ‘must have’. Anjum’s latest book, Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast, will be published by Quadrille in September 2012 and available for £19.99.
In spring 2011, Anjum and her husband, Adarsh Sethia, launched a new range of authentic and traditional Indian sauces called The Spice Tailor, which are currently sold throughout the UK in Waitrose stores. Anjum lives with Adarsh and their children, Mahi and Aditey, in North London but travels regularly to visit her family in India.
Far removed from the world of cooking, Abdul Yaseen was born into a family committed to working the railways. Abdul went from his first job at The Park group of hotels to the prestigious, Oberoi-owned Rajvilas hotel in Jaipur: it was here he met now-Cinnamon Club executive chef and CEO Vivek Singh. Landing a job with Vivek as he launched The Cinnamon Club in 2001, Abdul worked his way up to become a key member of the 20-strong team.
After seven years, Vivek threw open the doors to Cinnamon Kitchen and Anise – a more casual sister restaurant – announcing Abdul as its head chef. It is here that Abdul was tasked with championing modern Indian cuisine in the City. Always developing and reinterpreting dishes from the sub-continent, the menu at Cinnamon Kitchen is testament to Abdul’s bold experimentation and fearless innovation, and his menu is praised by critics and customers alike. Abdul has won Cinnamon Kitchen a host of accolades, and with an appearance on BBC2’s The Hairy Bikers’ Christmas Party last year, Abdul’s profile is deservedly on the rise.
Cinnamon Kitchen is a new concept from The Cinnamon Club team. Drawing on the same ethos of innovation and creativity as the original restaurant, Cinnamon Kitchen offers evolved Modern Indian cuisine in a relaxed setting in the heart of the City of London.
Anise, where the evening starts, is a bar inspired by the cuisine of Cinnamon Kitchen, but with very much its own identity. With imaginative cocktails and a wonderful selection of wines and beers, this bar offers a unique option in the City of London.
Vira International have very kindly covered the costs of the entertainment tonight, ensuring that as much of the money raised at the Diwali Banquet as possible can go directly to Action Against Hunger.
Vira International is a leading name in the Hospitality Industry, recruiting Chefs and and providing immigration advice for leading UK Restaurant groups, hotels and independents.
Champagne Taittinger has supported Action Against Hunger for over a decade, and are very kindly sponsoring the Champagne Taittinger reception at the Diwali Banquet.
Champagne Taittinger is widely available at restaurants and on the high street at Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Oddbins, Threshers, Majestic, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and many other independent specialists.
Namaste wines bring a new kind of a wine experience to the British palette. Their collection of Anokhee wines from the Nasik Valley, India reflect their belief that a 'good wine is made in the vineyards'. At Vallonne Vineyards the process begins with their viticulturists carefully monitoring the growth of the vines all year round to ensure moderate yield and the very best quality. The South-facing vineyards ensure optimum maturity of the grapes for better aromas as their vines draw from the unique qualities and flavors of the terroir. The fruit is gently picked and sorted by hand and as the grape makes its way to the tanks, there is minimal human intervention to make sure that the quality of the fruit stands proud. Careful extraction of flavors and soft tannins define their wine.
Kingfisher beer’s story began in 1857, where it was first brewed in Southern India. Now, Kingfisher beer has over 150 years heritage, 33 breweries across India and is proud to be celebrating their 30th year in the UK. Kingfisher beer is a multiple award winning, premium, refreshing beer bursting with hops and citrus, whose flavours perfectly complement hot and spicy cuisine. Experience India’s No.1 beer: Tastes better, together.
Chaat! Magazine, the magazine of the British Curry Club is providing media support for this event. Join the British Curry Club 2for1 membership and save every time you enjoy your favourite curry at 100’s of participating restaurants nationally! Subscribe to Chaat! magazine packed to the brim with spicy food & travel features; check out the recipes, reviews, competition, interviews and much more!! Go to www.britishcurryclub.co.uk now!
In addition to thanking the Cinnamon Kitchen, all of the participating chefs and our fantastic committee, Action Against Hunger would like to thank our auction donors, who donated an array of fantastic prizes, enabling us to raise funds on the night:
ZaZa Bazaar, Bon Vivant, Polo in the Park, Hix Mayfair, Diplomat Cruises, Absolute Indian, A Beach Symphony, Great Rail Journeys, Park Hotels, Vira International, Nahm, Dhruv Baker, Cottrell & Klar, Last Second Tickets, Coco Nailbar, Kyle's Collection, Hilton Hotels, The Leela Palace, Ahilya Fort, Springbank, Boisdale of Canary Wharf, The Ambrette, Beach Blanket Babylon, Roast, Benares, Kololi, Stapleford Park, Rosapena, London Golf Club, CJ Poupazis, Aitken Spence Hotels, Casa Colombo, Hardeep Singh Kohli
For any further information about the event, booking your tickets or Action Against Hunger, please contact Senior Events Officer Lizzie Charles on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8853 7570.