Our fourth gala dinner has wildly surpassed even our own expectations. To raise £95,000 from the auction alone is completely crazy to both David and I, especially thinking back to our first meetings about organising a dinner for Ty Hafan back in 2009, when we were not sure we could get any chefs, never mind any guests!
The night really could not have gone any better. Obviously, the organisation of the event starts over a year before but there is still a lot to achieve on the day. Many of the Chefs have done the event before and this helps everything along on the night and ensures that any new Chefs are helped along by the more experienced guys and girls. The Chefs’ start arriving at lunchtime and its not too long before a little good natured ribbing starts between them, particularly once they have a look at each others menus. The chefs are very professional and help each other a lot during the event but they are all still definitely competitive … some more than others.
We are very generously sponsored by Laurent Perrier champagne for the drinks reception and they also sponsored a course this year so the bubbles were certainly flowing. I’m not sure how a magnum found its way into the kitchen but it certainly helped to start the night off on the right food for the chefs…..as well as this co-organiser! Once the Chefs draw was over the real event starts for us and the chefs all start to switch into service mode which is a sight to behold in the kitchen, it actually gets quieter and certainly more serious. I am very lucky to be able to flit between the kitchen and the front of house and it is great to see so many guests who return to the event time and time again. Everyone seems to have a fantastic time and the room is buzzing.
We have a timely reminder of why we are all here when our guest of honour, Katie Palmer steps up onto the stage with her Mum. Katie is a regular attendee of Ty Hafan and her words and courage touched the room greatly. The auction commenced shortly after and this is when the evening really does become exciting. Some of the figures that the Chef auctions start on are incredible, notwithstanding where they end up after the gavel drops. The top single bid came for Ping Coombes, the 2014 Masterchef champion. I do have a small confession in that i had forgotten to ask Ping if she would agree to take part in the auction, she looked genuinely horrified when her name came up as the final chef to be auctioned off but his was purely because she did not think she would raise as much money as some of the more established chefs. When the gavel dropped at £15,000 for her to cook in the successful bidders house for 10 guests she was actually overcome with emotion at how much had been raised for her services. This topped the £125,000 mark for the amount raised on the night in aid of Ty Hafan so i am very relieved that she was happy to be in the auction … even if she didn’t have much choice at this point!
One of the few issues with Chefs Night Out for us as organisers is that because the event has done so well, it is a worry that the next event will not be as good as our last. As it turned out, due to the tireless hard work of our Chefs’ and the extreme generosity of our guests, apparently we didn’t need to worry. We will keep worrying though, to make sure that the next event on February 4th 2017 is even better than this night. See you all at The St David’s Hotel. (I will be the one sneaking the champagne into the kitchen).