I’m in the lucky position of having a public profile that allows me to do some good to help others. Most of the time I’m asked to MC and host charity functions, and my skills come in very handy when it comes to controlling a room of 1000 people who thoroughly enjoy good food and wine and hand over their hard-earned dollars to worthy causes. Bless them!
Next week I will be hosting a wonderful charity dinner in Sydney to raise money for a very special cause – the Starlight Children’s Foundation. I was contacted by my mate Rod Kempe, the winemaker from the Hunter Valley’s oldest winery, Lake’s Folly. Rod and his wife Sandra have supported Starlight for many years and Rod is on the organising committee for its major annual fundraiser, the Starlight Five Chefs Dinner, to be held at The Four Seasons hotel on Thursday May 22.
Fine food and wine always attract attention, so inviting five renowned chefs with a massive following definitely gets people through the door. This year the event’s organisers were delighted with the response when Matt Moran (ARIA Restaurant), Colin Fassnidge (Four In Hand Dining Room), Shaun Presland (Saké Restaurant & Bar), Adriano Zumbo (Pâtissier) and Darren Robertson & Mark LaBrooy (Three Blue Ducks) all agreed to come on board.
These extraordinary dinners have been going for about 24 years and what sets this event apart is that EVERYTHING is donated for free. The chefs donate their time. They contact their suppliers who donate the produce, all the assistants and helpers in the kitchen are also giving what they can, every element of the event is donated, right through to the event producers and hotel wait staff at The Four Seasons who work closely with the hotel’s executive chef Jess Ong to deliver an exceptional evening.
I popped into the Starlight Room at Sydney Children’s Hospital last week as they had organised a hands-on cooking session for the sick kids with some of the chefs involved in the night. Mark LaBrooy was making chocolate-dipped fruit kebabs, Shaun was showing the children the art of creating sushi and Colin had them mastering chocolate mousse. All those beautiful little faces lighting up at the sight of all this food and the chance to get their hands dirty was a gorgeous sight.
Every minute of every day a child is admitted to hospital. While the doctors and staff work hard to treat a child’s illness, Starlight is there to brighten their world just a little – replacing pain and fear with fun and laughter. You can literally see them leave their day to day world behind and focus on being a kid again with no fear. It was such a joy seeing their smiles and the relief on their parents’ faces.
And how much do we love Captain Starlight, a superhero from Planet Starlight who provides a brilliant distraction for the kids, entertaining and engaging them where possible. There are 100 Captain Starlights working across the Starlight Rooms around the country connecting with over 135,000 sick children and their families. They work knowing that the imagination is a powerful thing – especially for kids, as it can transport a child from the confines of their hospital bed to a land where giraffes are pink and adventures on the moon are possible!
So next Thursday night I’ll be happily frocking up and hitting The Four Seasons to help raise some money for the amazing work of the Starlight Children’s Foundation. I am thrilled to be in the company of such inspiring, generous people who do so much to support others and, more importantly, help the families who know and live with the pain of having a sick child.