Today’s Special, a UK restaurant industry fundraiser spearheaded by Huw Gott (Hawksmoor) and Libby Andrews (Pho), rallied hospitality businesses from across the country in just under three weeks to raise over £225,000 for those hit hardest by the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK and around the world.
At an incredibly difficult time for the industry, the generosity from restaurants, bars, chefs and hotels saw donations of more than 150 money-can’t-(normally)-buy prizes (like Jason Atherton and Claude Bosi cooking in your home, or an exclusive cookery course with Dishoom’s executive chef).
All of these were auctioned off online or, in a world’s first for a hospitality initiative, via a live auction streamed on Zoom hosted by Great British Menu judges Andi Oliver and Oliver Peyton, along with auctioneer Tom Best and comedian Tom Allen.
The total raised will be split evenly between two charities, Action Against Hunger and Hospitality Action to:
- pay bills for more than 400 vulnerable hospitality families in the UK at risk of extreme poverty and homelessness as a result of Covid-19;
- and support vulnerable children facing food insecurity and malnutrition around the world. The money raised could provide life-saving medical treatment for more than 2,500 children.
Mark Lewis, Chief Executive, Hospitality Action, said, “We are staggered at the speed with which Today’s Special gained momentum, bringing hundreds of operators together to raise much needed funds for those hardest hit by Covid-19. As the industry reopens over the coming weeks and months, Hospitality Action will use the incredible funds raised, to provide ongoing assistance to industry employees at the sharp end of the pandemic.”
Jean-Michel Grand, Executive Director, Action Against Hunger, said, “In my 20 years at Action Against Hunger I’ve never seen an initiative like it. Today’s Special has been a phenomenon: a positive, celebratory campaign that has been able to overcome the constraints of lockdown to raise an incredible sum of money. It’s been humbling to see the hospitality industry, even during its darkest hour, continue to support the world’s most vulnerable children. The money raised isn’t just going to change lives, it is going to save them.”
A celebration of the strength, breadth, character and resilience of the hospitality industry, Today’s Special, will become an annual event to support these two charities, and discussions are already underway to enable partners in other countries to host local versions of the event to help feed the fight against child hunger and support hospitality’s most vulnerable people in their communities.
Sally Abé, head chef, The Hardwood Arms, said “What a wonderful way for hospitality to come together in support of our own. It’s been a real celebration of the diversity and generosity of our bruised industry. The Today’s Special fundraiser motivated me and hundreds of chefs like me to raise a remarkable amount for people in need, and I look forward to its return next year.”