On Sunday 8 October, restaurant critic Jay Rayner joins chef/restaurateur Ravinder Bhogal at her Marylebone restaurant, Jikoni, to cook a “very special” fundraising feast in aid of Action Against Hunger’s Love Food Give Food campaign. Publicised as The Cook & The Critic, their day-long collaboration will also mark Jikoni’s first anniversary.
It won’t be the first time Jay gets his hands greasy for Action Against Hunger: he is a familiar sight, bandana and all, at its annual Too Many Critics events. Still, he jokingly says the prospect of donning whites to work with Ravinder is “terrifying”. The pair first worked together on a Channel 4 TV series in 2010. “Ravinder spoke often of wanting to open a restaurant, and I told her if she meant it she'd have to get some experience,” Rayner told Eater London. “I could have not anticipated the degree to which she would take me at my word, starting at the bottom in kitchens and slogging her guts out to learn the business side. The result is Jikoni, which is a brilliant showcase for her unique and pitch-perfect palate. She says we collaborated on this menu; that means she showed it to me, and I said, oh, that sounds delicious. I really couldn't be more proud of her. I'm delighted to be her serf in the kitchen and front of house for one day, in the service of a brilliant cause.”
The celebratory six-course menu, served at both lunch and dinner, shows off Bhogal’s globetrotting tapestry of influences, drawn from East Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It will include a glass of Pol Roger Brut Reserve Champagne; salmon kibbeh nayeh with fennel and olive salad and smoked labneh, or beetroot borani with barrel-aged feta and candied walnuts; duck and pistachio manti with hot yoghurt sauce and pomegranate molasses, or spinach kofta with pumpkin and shankleesh m’hencha; and tahini parfait with honeyed quince.
Bhogal, who got her break when she took part, and shone, in a competition on Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word some eight years ago, says: “Hunger is the most compelling issue, and we as food professionals have a duty to respond to it in any way we can. To think there are children in the world who go hungry when we eat the way we do is unconscionable. I am honoured to be able to mark our first successful year at Jikoni by supporting Action Against Hunger’s Love Food Give Food Campaign.”
Action Against Hunger is a global humanitarian organisation committed to saving the lives of malnourished children and provide impoverished communities with food and water. Last year, the charity provided vital aid to 14.9 million people in countries worldwide, including Syria, Nepal, Haiti, Nigeria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Donations in exchange for tickets for ‘The Cook & The Critic’ are £85, plus booking fee, and can be found here.