Joe Allen, 24, from Colliers Wood, London, is a Chef De Partie for Compass Group. Every year he organises a fantastic culinary feast to raise money for Meningitis Now. Here, he tells us about the event, now in its fifth year
“Back in late 2011 my eldest brother Thomas, who was 24, contracted acute bacterial meningitis. He was airlifted to Queen’s Hospital in Essex and put into the Intensive Care Unit.”
“He put up a strong fight but the meningitis was too powerful for him, and he passed away on 3 January 2012.“
“At the time I was in college and about to take my final exam for my professional chef’s diploma - I didn’t really know how I was going to pull myself through and complete that exam.”
“'As I slowly got back into a sense of normality, the college had held a fundraiser for 150 people. My friends Aaron Thomas and Nathan Belgrave suggested that I ask the Head of school to see if we could hold a similar event to raise money for Meningitis Now (The Meningitis Trust at the time).”
“We got the go-ahead towards the end of February and in a little over two months we held an eight course meal for roughly 100 people, which took place on Friday 4 May.”
“Of the eight courses sponsored, five were from my first Executive Head Chef Helena Puolakka and the other three from the Head Chef at my work experience placement, Brett Graham of The Ledbury in Notting Hill."
“'Year on year the dinner has progressed hugely, gaining support from some of the top chefs within the hospitality industry; it never ceases to amaze how much people are willing to give.”
In memory of Tom
This year’s event, known as ‘The IMOT (In Memory of Tom) charity dinner', will follow the same template as previous years, with seven out of nine courses already sponsored and the menu yet to be finalised.
Chefs sponsoring the event are:
Russel Bateman from The Grove Hotel - snacks
Rob Kennedy from Chartwells - bread
Dan Cox, former Executive Chef of Fera - vegetarian first course
Shaun Searley from The Quality Chophouse - starter
Mark Jarvis from Anglo - fish
Brett Graham from The Ledbury - main course
Matt Worswick from The Latymer - dessert
The dinner will be held at Westminster Kingsway College, Joe’s old catering school, on Friday 23 March 2018. Tickets for the event cost £70, with the majority of them sold out already. Those lucky enough to have secured their place can look forward to a glass of bubbly at the drinks reception, followed by an eight or nine course gastronomic feast.
There will also be a charity auction and raffle on the night, hosted by guest MC, ex-Lions and Welsh international rugby player John Taylor.
Joe is hoping to raise an amazing £10,000 from the event for Meningitis Now.
Carrie Bater, Community Fundraiser for Meningitis Now, will be attending the sought-after event. She says: “I’m really looking forward to the dinner and supporting Joe on the evening.”
“Joe and his family have already raised nearly £100,000 for Meningitis Now. It’s an incredible amount and we are so grateful for their continued support.”
“The generosity of everyone involved - from Joe and his family, to the chefs sponsoring the event - has already helped so many people who have been affected by meningitis. By continuing to host these dinners they will support us to be there for many more people in the future”.
Joe’s incredible fundraising efforts don’t stop at these dinners – he’s also running the London Marathon in April with two friends. He says, “The London Marathon was something my brother Sam wanted to do. Last year as a family my two brothers and I ran, and as much as it’s a huge personal challenge, it’s also an important way of raising awareness for an awful disease, and an amazing charity.”
“This will be my third marathon, and I believe a lot of it is mentality - the reason why you're running will help pull you through.”
If you can offer any support for the dinner please contact Joe directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you can show your support by sponsoring Joe’s marathon run.