Too Many Critics

ON MONDAY 18TH MARCH, Chef Naved enjoyed a well-deserved break from the kitchen. For this one very unusual evening, his chef’s whites remained pristine and pressed in his locker. Instead of steeling himself for a hectic dinner shift, he felt pleasantly calm and relaxed. An almost holiday-ish feeling overtook him. With a contented smile, he wandered into Dishoom Manchester’s grand Dining Hall, settled into a delightfully rickety bentwood chair, admired his surroundings and waited.

The Dining Hall soon filled with the North’s finest chefs and restaurateurs, all eagerly awaiting Action Against Hunger’s much-anticipated annual charity event, Too Many Critics.

This year seven top critics were tasked with creating a first-rate Dishoom-inspired menu – showing serious flair and an abundance of courage as they faced the judgement of Manchester’s most discerning diners.

It was a truly unforgettable evening that left us misty-eyed, humbled, and proud to be supporting such an important cause. Together we raised over £22,000 (a figure that’s still rising), that will save the lives of 525 severely malnourished children.

EVENT PROCEEDINGS

Ruth Allen (Manchester Wire) and Matt White (XS Manchester) heroically kicked off proceedings with Mancunian cheese toast and crispy paneer served with Kairi chutney.

For mains, Emily Heward (Manchester Evening News) and Louise Rhind-Tutt (ILoveManchester) took to the grill and served up tandoori prawns and saffron lamb chops, whilst Neil Sowerby (Taste of Manchester) and Simon Binns (LadBible) took care of the curry dishes with Keralan fish moilee and a roasted cauliflower and aubergine korma. And to end things on a sweet note, Bill Knott (The Financial Times) served a cardamom pannacotta.

The critics were also asked to curate a special beer cocktail for the night, partnering with a local brewery. This included a Mango Shandy using Northern Monk, a Spiced Vanilla Black using North Brewing Co, a Cosmic Butter Brew with JW Lees, a Mang-chester Sour using Shindigger’s Mango Unchained, Bhangra Beatnikz using Beatniks, and a Manchester Union Manhattan using Manchester Union Lager.

Winners were announced at the end of the evening following votes from diners and chefs, with Neil proudly taking the prize for Chef’s choice as well as cocktail creation, and Ruth picking up the people’s choice. Thanks to all patrons who supported this worthy cause! And shabash to all critic-chefs, for your hard work – and thank you, kindly, for giving Naved a night off!

For those wanting to taste at home, cocktail creation winner Neil Sowerby has kindly shared the recipe for his Bhangra Beatnikz.

BHANGRA BEATNIKZ

15ml lime juice
10ml ginger syrup
15ml Kamm & Sons
25ml Plantation Pineapple
2 dash peach bitters
Beatniks IPA beer foam

METHOD

1. Add the above ingredients (minus the beer foam) into a shaker
2. Shake, hard
3. Top with whipped beer foam
4. Sip with relish

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There are many varieties of Chai. The kind we make at Dishoom is the sort of spicy, sweet chai you will find at Bombay's innumerable tapris (street stalls), normally poured with great dexterity and skill from arm's length into a small, stout glass. The powerful concoction of milk, sugar and caffeine is what keeps the city running.

Reflections from Bhawani Singh Shekhawat, CEO at Akshaya Patra UK

We began working with the Akshaya Patra Foundation in 2015, supporting them in their goal of ending hunger as a barrier to education in India. Over the years, we’ve developed lasting friendships with the incredible team and had the sincere privilege of visiting many of the schools and communities they serve in India. Last month, we celebrated reaching the milestone of donating 10 million meals to hungry children with Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra through our meal for a meal partnership. Akshaya Patra’s CEO and Trustee, Bhawani Singh Shekhawat, kindly took the time to reflect on the impact of the foundation’s life-changing work.

Thoughts from Rachael Anderson, Head of Schools at Magic Breakfast

We began working with Magic Breakfast in 2015, supporting them in their goal of ending hunger as a barrier to education in the UK. Over the years, we’ve developed lasting and loyal friendships with the incredible team and their partner schools. This month, we celebrate reaching the milestone of donating 10 million meals to hungry children in partnership with Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra. Magic Breakfast’s Head of Schools, Rachael Anderson, has kindly taken the time to reflect on the last six years of our work together, as well as sharing her thoughts on the profound impact the past twelve months have had.

Children sit cross legged at school

10 million meals for children

Since 2015, for every Dishoom meal you’ve enjoyed (whether in the cafés, via delivery, or as a meal kit), we’ve donated a meal to a child that might otherwise go hungry. A meal for a meal. This month, as we reached the milestone of donating 10 million meals, we had occasion to catch up with our dear friends and long-term charity partners, Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra. The work both charities do to end hunger as a barrier to education is simply incredible and we’re extremely proud to be able to support them and the communities they serve in the UK and India, respectively. We kindly invite you to take a moment to hear their reflections on our partnership and on the impact of the very important work they do.