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‘The Yorkshire Factor’ was the secret ingredient to creating the perfect charity fundraiser, according to TV chef Brian Turner.
The Ready Steady Cook star was in Sheffield to take part in the Food Fight Against Cancer with his good friend and fellow celebrity cook, James Martin.
The pair battled it out over hot stoves in front of a live audience at The Crucible Theatre to raise over £75,000, which will benefit Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, Cavendish Cancer Care and Anthony Nolan.
Brian, a patron of Anthony Nolan, said: “I became involved in Food Fight Against Cancer as my good friend David Baldwin asked me if I could lend a hand and I said ‘David, if you’re asking I can never say no’, he’s always been so kind to me.”
Sheffield restaurateur David supported the event organiser, Kay Simons from Dronfield, who began fundraising for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity with her late husband, Professor Daniel Simons, when the charity was founded 19 years ago. Daniel later became a patron of the charity.
Star of BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen, James Martin, said: “I’m in Yorkshire on a regular basis now with my restaurants in Leeds and so anything I can do to help a worthwhile cause, and Brian of course, who helped me out so much when I was younger, I am happy to do.”
James said Food Fight Against Cancer was a great stage for the pair’s reunion as it had been more than a decade since they cooked together in front of an audience.
He said: “We were both on Ready Steady Cook for lots of years and did the stage shows around the country together, but that was 12 years ago. The last time I was in The Crucible was to watch the snooker with my granddad who lives in the west of Sheffield.”
Brian said: “It’s actually my first time in The Crucible - but I was awarded my honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University, who are just over the road, for services to catering in 2008. But I was here not long ago visiting David and his wife and we eat at Baldwins.”
The timely visit to Sheffield also brought back memories of James’ stint on the Strictly Come Dancing tour when he performed in front of thousands of fans at the Motorpoint Arena in 2005. He joked he would not be getting his ballroom shoes on again to give Michael Vaughan and co any pointers this year.
The banter between the two Yorkshire-born chefs was rife throughout the evening and kept the 600-strong audience laughing throughout, while BBC Look North’s Christa Ackroyd acted as referee and compere.
The second half of Food Fight Against Cancer paid homage to Brian and James’ time on Ready Steady Cook as they were given a surprise bag of food they had to transform into a tasty meal.
James joked that the two would be showcasing two different types of cooking – Brian the older, more traditional methods and James the more modern techniques.
James added: “Brian will be rubbing two sticks together, whereas I have things with plugs.”
But the one thing the pair did agree on was how the restaurant industry has changed in Yorkshire since they donned their trainee chef whites.
James said: “When I first started my training in Scarborough the minute you qualified you had to go to London or Paris, but that isn’t the case anymore.”
Brian added: “Now, Yorkshire has a great reputation of Michelin starred restaurants and good cooks, it’s improved like lots of places, but what sets it apart is the produce and the scenery.”
Kay Simons said: “Food Fight Against Cancer went better than I could ever have imagined. James, Brian and Christa were amazing and everyone left with smiles on their faces. The amount the event has raised is incredible and all the messages of support have been fantastic.”
Catherine Rhone, senior fundraiser at Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, said: “The gloves were certainly off at Food Fight Against Cancer! It was a fantastic evening, full of laughter, stories and delicious dishes. We felt very privileged to have the support of such well-known and talented chefs.
“It was a real unique event, which is what Kay and her family have become known for over their many years fundraising for the Cancer Charity. We cannot thank them enough for their continued support.”
Funds raised from the event will be split between Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity and Cavendish Cancer Care, with a donation being made to Anthony Nolan.
The event is supporting the Cancer Charity’s ‘Do Your Bit’ campaign and the £25,000 raised will be doubled by local not-for-profit health insurer, Westfield Heath.
The Do Your bit campaign is raising funds for a new state-of-the-art cancer research and treatment suite at Weston Park Hospital. This will allow patients access to a wider range of new cutting edge anti-cancer treatments, as well as enabling significant development of the hospital’s ground-breaking programme of clinical trials.
Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity needs to raise £1.5million this year in order to fund pioneering cancer research and to help improve the treatments and care for people living with cancer.
Weston Park Hospital provides care for cancer patients from across the region, which means patients from Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster, Worksop, Chesterfield, and beyond will benefit from donations made to the charity.
Westfield Health’s Charitable Trust has pledged £350,000 to the Do Your Bit campaign - its biggest ever single donation, kick-starting the campaign with £100,000 and then matching all Do Your Bit donations pound-for-pound, up to a further £250,000.