Raising funds for a good cause with Francesco Mazzei

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You know me by now. I really enjoy volunteering and I do ‘muck in’ when is about helping others. So when I had a chat with chef Francesco Mazzei a few weeks ago (as I wrote about him for Italian Gourmet website) and he mentioned a forthcoming fundraising dinner, I jumped at the opportunity to help out.

The cause

Francesco has recently started a collaboration with The “Bambino Gesù of Cairo Associationwhich seeks to promote social solidarity by providing social and medical assistance, especially to pregnant women and abandoned children or children coming from poor families.

Elegant dining room
Stunning setting

They run two projects in Egypt: “Oasis of Pietà” Orphanage and “Bambino Gesù Women’s and Children’s Hospital” located in the “New Administrative Capital of Cairo” (Egypt).

Francesco will oversee the construction and set up of a kitchen where local youths will be trained and will gain skills to allow them to find employement.

The planning

The event Francesco had organised was to be held in our beautiful Italian Embassy and hosted by our Ambassador Lambertini and Monsignor Gaid from the Association. I had expected to be placed in the back kitchen peeling potatoes or chopping onions.

Chefs talking in dining room
Briefing time

Instead, Francesco asked me to be the official photographer of the event! What a responsibility. I am not a pro by any means, and my favourite subject are nudibranchs. I was freaking out at the idea of taking photos of smartly dressed diners in the opulent embassy settings!

The evening

I needn’t have worried too much. As soon as I arrived I met the other volunteers (including my dear friend Danilo Cortellini who had flown from Italy for the occasion) and felt immediately at ease and part of the team. I took as many photos as I could, trying to blend in with the guests and snapping photos of the wonderful dishes too. Shout out to Carlo, a fellow neapolitan who was a laugh and great support through the evening.

Dishes held by white gloved hands
Mains going out

The night had many donations from companies keen to support the cause, including Grana Padano, Ferrari and Pasticceria Marchesi (oh the cake!) and many items donated to the auction including a signed photo by Frankie Dettori and a signed recipe book by Giuseppe Dell’Anno.

Two men in front of a microphone
Auction in full swing

The night raised over 30,000£ which is incredible! I was elated to be part of such a group of talented people and amazed by Francesco’s energy in running such a high profile event.

Here’s to next year!

Grana padano cheese wheel
Slice of chocolate cake
Crowded room of people drinking

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