Ottolenghi raises Smile


A children’s charity launched by two north London Jewish women got off to a tasty start — a cookery demonstration by Israeli-born chef and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi.

Guests at the Hampstead Garden Suburb fundraiser also had the opportunity to fire culinary questions at the chef while he chopped and sauteed, as well as asking about his secular childhood in Israel. “All you gefilte fish makers had better put aside everything you’ve ever known,” he warned.

After much cajoling, Mr Ottolenghi agreed to consider opening a shop in Hampstead for “ladies who lunch”. One guest, Liz Stern was particularly star-struck, suggesting: “It’s like meeting the Donny Osmond of the food world.”

Following the demonstration, guests enjoyed a lunch of the dishes prepared — butterbean puree, fishcakes, pickled lemon and aubergine dip. There was a raffle for hampers of Ottolenghi goods.

Vanessa Crocker and Josephine Segal founded Spread A Smile, providing entertainment to seriously ill children in hospital, after seeing the positive impact a magician’s visit had on Ms Segal’s nine-year-old nephew when he was in Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh).

Prior to the launch event, the women organised 14 visits to the hospital, accompanied by “fairies”, face painters, magicians, singers and poets.

Gosh volunteers’ head Jamie Wilcox praised the visits as “amazing. And it’s actually proven to help kids with their recovery. If they’re entertained and feel relaxed, their bodies will heal quicker.”

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