Celebrity Chef Adds Spice to Fundraising Dinner to Help Change Lives in Bulgaria

Television chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE, who runs Café Spice Namasté in London, worked alongside trainee chefs from City College Norwich last night for a special charity dinner.  The evening was organised to raise funds for Phoenix Inspire, a charity set up by former Head of the Hotel School, Mick Cooper, which creates hope and opportunity for some of the poorest people in Bulgaria by training them to become chefs.  

The well-attended dinner, held in the Debut Restaurant at City College Norwich, raised around £2,500 for the charity.  With Cyrus Todiwala OBE in the kitchens guests were treated to the finest quality Indian cuisine, including Kerala Nyannd Masala (a flaked crab meat speciality from Kerala), Dhaniawala Gosht (a diced Hoggett dish) and Leeli Curry (a light green curry made with coconut cream and pureed cashew nuts).

The charity dinner included a raffle, auction and a live link up with Genko Guenkov, from the Craft Chamber of Sofia, who gave a message of thanks to all those who had come along to support the event.  As well as providing a memorable evening for the diners in support of a worthwhile cause, the occasion was also special for the 2nd Year Professional Cookery students who had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from Cyrus Todiwala.

Phoenix Inspire was set up two years ago by Mick Cooper, after he left City College Norwich where he had been Head of the renowned Hotel School.  Phoenix Inspire works to provide training opportunities for the residents of the Children’s Home in Novo Selo, in North West Bulgaria, to become professional chefs and restaurant staff.  The aim is to give some of the poorest and most disadvantaged individuals in Bulgarian society the opportunity gain skills, meaningful employment and a better quality of life. 

Contributing to the evening’s proceedings via a live internet link, Genko Guenkov, who works for the Craft Chamber of Sofia said: “Through Phoenix Inspire we are trying to give hope to many young people – the hope that they can each live with the dignity, security and the joy that comes with the rewards of work”.

Mick Cooper, former Head of the Hotel School who now who runs Phoenix Inspire in Bulgaria, said: “The money raised this evening will make a real difference in helping the young people we work with to get out of poverty and have meaningful future careers.  The funds will be used to improve the facilities in our Bistro where the young people train, which needs a new roof and cooking equipment.  Our relationship with the Hotel School at City College is very deep.  The fund raising dinner is only a part of a relationship which will raise the aspirations of the young in Novo Selo.  When my trainees visit the Hotel School in the future they will see the opportunities that exist for them”. 

Steve Thorpe, Head of the Hotel School, City College Norwich, said: “We are delighted that Cyrus Todiwala has come to City College Norwich today to cook for our guests, work alongside our students and support the work of Phoenix Inspire.  We know that learning vocational skills transforms lives here in the UK and it is great to be able to do something to help provide similar opportunities to some of the poorest people in Bulgaria”.    
For more information about Phoenix Inspire, please visit www.phoenix-inspire.org.uk