Today's Special brought together chefs and restaurateurs from across the UK to offer prizes and experiences for the public to bid on via an online auction, with the proceeds donated to the Action Against Hunger and Hospitality Action charities.
Prizes included home cookery experiences with the likes of Jason Atherton and Claude Bosi; and a jerk-spiced fried chicken street party catered by James Cochran, with beer provided by Forest Road Brewery’s Tactical Beer Response Unit.
Restaurant groups including Hawksmoor, St. John, Dishoom, Franco Manca and Pho also donated lots.
Many of the prizes were available to bid on via a silent, online auction; while a select number were auctioned off 'live' over Zoom during an event hosted by Great British Menu judges Andi Oliver and Oliver Peyton.
The money raised will help pay bills for more than 400 vulnerable hospitality families in the UK who are at risk of extreme poverty and homelessness as a result of coronavirus, and also be used to support vulnerable children facing food insecurity and malnutrition around the world.
“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," says Mark Lewis, CEO of Hospitality Action.
"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.”
Today’s Special will now become an annual event to support the two charities, and discussions are underway to enable partners in other countries to host local versions of the event.
“In my 20 years at Action Against Hunger I’ve never seen an initiative like it," says Jean-Michel Grand, executive director of Action Against Hunger.
"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.”