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Chefs Join Nationwide Tsunami Fundraising Dinner

Top NZ Chefs Join Forces For Nationwide Tsunami Fundraising Dinner

Top chefs from around New Zealand have been called together by one of their own to assist survivors of the Boxing Day tsunami in Asia.

‘The Tsunami Dinner’ – featuring a six-course degustation menu - will be staged over three nights (Christchurch: 27 January, Wellington: 28 January and Auckland: 5 February).

Tickets to the gastronomic fundraising dinners, priced at $200 each, go on sale today and are expected to sell out quickly.

The man behind the dinners, Phillip Kraal, chef and owner of Le Bon Bolli restaurant in Christchurch, was so moved by the tsunami tragedy that he rallied his peers within New Zealand’s finest dining establishments, convincing them to join together to make a difference. One man’s tireless effort in contacting chefs and businesses, over a period when most New Zealanders were relaxing, has resulted in the creation of a major nationwide charity event.

“I’m amazed at how we’ve managed to achieve so much in just a few days. The support of both the food and beverage industry and corporates across the country has been incredible. When I was sitting in front of my TV watching this tragedy unfold I was feeling totally helpless and wondering what I, as an ordinary guy who runs a small business, could do to make a difference. The readiness of individuals and businesses to get on board with donations of time, product and expertise has been overwhelming. It reminds me of how special it is to be a New Zealander.”

In the days following the tsunami, Mr Kraal began contacting other chefs within the country’s hospitality industry to gauge support for a nationwide fundraising effort with a twist. Their enthusiasm to donate their time and expertise reassured Mr Kraal that his brainchild would be well supported and he began the logistically challenging feat of bringing together sponsors who could donate the right sort of product and expertise to make the event a success.

“It just snowballed. I didn’t realise quite how much effort it takes to make something like this happen. I discovered pretty quickly that it was turning into something far too big for me to organise alone, so I approached entertainment, event management, marketing and publicity experts from Avenues Event Management, Saatchi & Saatchi and SKYCITY’s communications team. Everyone was so enthusiastic and willing to contribute their time and expertise at no cost to make this a really successful event. Now all that’s left to do is get the public to join the effort and put their bums on seats and raise the money that’s so desperately needed!”

Diners in each region will experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dine on a superb collaborative menu put together by a line-up of New Zealand's 'A list’ chefs, including Andrew Bain, Andrew Brown, Graham Brown, Jason Dell, Ann Holland and Nathan Bates in Christchurch; Rex Morgan, Chris Green, Alistair Brown, Mark Limacher, Steve Morris and Vim Rao in Wellington; Warren Bias, Simon Gault, Michael James, Peter Thornley, Tony Astle, Rohit Khaan and Phillip Kraal himself, in Auckland.

“The dinners will be a fantastic night out, with top quality dishes from our leading chefs, beautiful wines, as well as great entertainment from first class Kiwi performers who, like our chefs and the companies involved, are donating their time free of charge to ensure that all funds raised benefit those who need help. In each centre we’re also inviting one ethnic chef who hails from the affected regions to participate and cook a special traditional dish as part of the six-course dinner menu. What better way to spend $200 and really make a difference? We’ve set up an 0800 number and website for the public to buy tickets from today. Funds will go to the Red Cross for direction to where they’re needed most in the tsunami-hit regions. I’d suggest people get in and order tickets quickly as, with a relatively small number of seats available, the ticket allocation is likely to fill up fast, ” said Mr Kraal.

Each dinner will cater for up to 500 people and be seated in tables of 10.

The New Zealand government has also thrown its support behind Mr Kraal’s efforts with MPs, led by Lianne Dalziel, Tim Barnett and Ruth Dyson, offering to wait on tables at the events, in addition to purchasing tickets.

Supplier support ranges from the very small to the very large. Food and beverage has been donated by organisations across the country including Cantervalley Produce, Creans Fine Foods, D.H. Morris & Sons, Deer Industry NZ, Farm Smokehouse, Forrest Estate Marlborough, Kapiti Fine Foods, Lace Fine Wine Merchants, Lion Nathan, Molesworth Fruit & Vegetables, Mebus Estate Wairarapa, New Zealand Pork Industry Board and Suppliers, NZ Beef & Lamb Marketing Bureau and Regal Marlborough Salmon.

Event venues are being provided at no cost by the Christchurch Convention Centre, Te Papa and SKYCITY Auckland. Catering company Spotless and waiting staff from the regions are also donating their time free of charge.

Event management, marketing and administrative support has been provided free of charge by Avenues Event Management, SKYCITY Entertainment Group, Saatchi & Saatchi and Deloitte.

“Seeing how this tragedy has really galvanised everyday people into action makes you feel incredibly thankful for what you have in life. I just hope that the great support shown by New Zealand businesses and the hospitality industry is now followed by great support from the community in picking up the phone and ordering their tickets to The Tsunami Dinner,” said Mr Kraal.

© Scoop Media

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