Last week saw the return of our favorite charity cook-off, Cook-for-Hope. The event, now in its second year, took place in the sumptuous surroundings of Green T House, on Thursday April 27. Ten teams of chefs whipped up culinary delights from across the world, which were enjoyed not only by over 200 attendees but also by a panel of expert judges, including our very own Pauline van Hasselt.
The teams included parents from five schools: the International School of Beijing (ISB), Western Academy of Beijing (WAB), Dulwich College Beijing (DCB), British School of Beijing Shunyi (BSB Shunyi) and Beijing New Talent Academy. I interrupted some of them to find out what they were cooking.
The team representing Hong Kong had gone for a street food favorite.
“We wanted to present the authentic side of Hong Kong cuisine,” they told me. “Cart noodles are very popular there. We miss them!”
To ensure the authentic flavor, they’d had some ingredients delivered from Hong Kong: red sausage, pig skin and intestines.
“You can get it here,” I was informed, “but not well cooked.”
The European team offered a range of dishes, representing their varied origins.
“We’re Israeli, Chinese, Indian, French and Greek!” they said. “So our choices were based on what we’re good at making, and what can be served at room temperature.”
This was a smart move, given that they had to impress the judges first before feeding everyone else, with limited cooking facilities available. Another smart move was to serve sangria, which certainly helped sway this correspondent’s vote.
If the European food was a taste of home for me, then the Indian food was even more so. “Indian food is probably the best British food,” as one website put it, and my hometown of Birmingham is famous for its baltis.
“We come from all over India,” the team told me, “so our choices represent all the variety of Indian cuisine. And in honor of last week’s Earth Day, it’s all vegetarian.”
There was a serious side to the fun: as a result of the event, organized by volunteer group Love for Orphans, enough money has been raised for vital heart surgery for orphan baby Han. I talked to Robin from New Hope, who along with his wife Joyce has been looking after baby Han, and has looked after over 2.500 orphans over the last 17 years. I asked him what Love for Orphans means to him.
“It’s an organization that really cares for children,” he said, “organizing events and raising funds.”
And which cuisine was his favorite?
“Fusion,” he answered without hesitation. “Their hamburgers are really good.”
And the judges obviously agreed, because the Fusion team were the winners, with Hong Kong second and China third. “Fusion had a really simple menu,” Pauline van Hasselt said. “They kept it clean and simple, but whatever they did, they executed it really well. I think that’s an important lesson: less is more.”
Cook-for-Hope was once again a huge success, tickets having sold out in days and achieving all its fundraising goals. We look forward to next year’s event!
Photos: courtesy of Love for Orphans