Action Against Hunger's too many critics event

Top chefs and food critics gather for Too Many Critics 2014

By Action Against Hunger

Jun 9 2014

They’re used to dishing out opinions on food, but last night the tables were turned as London’s top critics downed pens and donned aprons to impress some of London’s finest chefs at Action Against Hunger’s Too Many Critics 2014.
Dressed in navy striped aprons or chef whites, Bill Knott, Charles Campion and a bandana-wearing Jay Rayner led the charge of critics determined to win over an intimidating gastronomic crowd at L’Anima London and raise awareness, and funds, for Action Against Hunger’s work worldwide.

“I’ve been involved in this event for four or five years now,” said Rayner. “It’s hard to say no to. Restaurant critics rarely get together but this is one time of the year that we do.  And it’s a really good cause.”

A star-studded occasion

Some of the biggest names in the British gastronomy scene were in attendance to test the critics’ mettle.  Among them, Antonio Carluccio OBE, chef and restaurateur; Mickael Weiss, head chef at Coq d’Argent; Bruno Loubet, of Bistrot Bruno Loubet & Grain Store;  Paul A Young, owner and chocolatier at Paul A Young Fine chocolates, London; and José Pizarro, chef and restaurateur. 

A Champagne Taittinger reception, featuring cocktails concocted with Galvanina juices by critic Kate Spicer, set the tone for the evening, while live jazz music played courtesy of Jay Rayner and his band.

Meanwhile, sweating it out in the kitchen with Knott, Campion and Rayner, under the watchful eye of L’Anima’s Francesco Mazzei, were: Tracey Macleod, food critic for The Independent; Lucas Hollweg, food writer and Sunday Times Style columnist; Lisa Markwell, editor of The Independent on Sunday; the Guardian’s Zoe Williams and Joe Warwick, writer, author and publisher.

“I made the rookie mistake of arriving too early and had the task of shelling broad beans for one-and-a-half hours,” said Markwell. “We have enormous respect for the chefs. I’d just like to point out that no one made one particular dish so you can’t actually blame me specifically for anything.”

As it happened, she needn’t have worried, as guests took to twitter to praise the food.

‘Restaurant critics perform VITAL service to humankind, howeva, best course at @ACF_UK Too Many Critics dinner: @paul_a_young truffle finale’, wrote Tom Oldroyd, of Polpo and Polpetto

A lot to bid for

A live auction, compered by the evening’s host Nigel Barden, of BBC Radio 2 and TV fame, proffered exclusive lots, including a Pablo Picasso etching, Apres L’Amour, donated by The Broad Gallery.
And art work by Marc Chagall, Joan Miro, Henri Matisse and another Picasso, were among the many highlights of a similarly successful silent auction.
In total, the event raised £26,576, which will contribute to Action Against Hunger’s life-saving programmes worldwide.
“I have been a part of this event since it started,” said Campion. “The good thing about Action Against Hunger is that an unusually high percentage of the money actually finds its way into the field. Feeding starving children must be a good idea, and at the Too Many Critics night, everyone has a great time and does some good as well.”

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