Last Friday I witnessed the unlikely spectacle of Marco Pierre White and Sunday Times restaurant critic AA Gill comparing leg hair, and saw a member of the aristocracy dressed as a tramp - all courtesy of Hospitality Action.
White and Gill were joined by food columnist and son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Tom Parker Bowles at the shooting of the latest Hospitality Action awareness adverts. This ongoing series of adverts depicts top chefs suffering the sort of life-altering set-backs often experienced by beneficiaries of HA funding. Previous ads have portrayed Raymond Blanc being led by a guide dog, Heston Blumenthal living rough and Anton Edelmann languishing in a hospital bed.
Gill arrived on set first, sporting a stained and raggedy jacket and trouser combo that looked as if he had lost one of his review-lunches down the front of it. "I borrowed one of your suits, Marco", he claimed, when the Hell's Kitchen supremo appeared. Marco exemplified Oxford Street doorway-chic, his Robinson Crusoe-style trousers exposing his ankles and calves. After a few moments spent gauging who had the fuzziest legs, they slumped onto a park bench, vodka bottles in hand, singing "underneath the arches" and laughing like drains.
Only last week, Gill wrote in the Sunday Times: "I always book under a false name, but I never wear a disguise. Getting into a wig and a costume and talking in a funny voice to eat dinner is weird and way too self-obsessed – it’s the sort of thing they do in America." According to HA chief exec Penny Moore, he broke that rule last Friday, when he and Marco left the shoot to review a nearby restaurant in full down-and -out garb. Considering that he had sportingly given up a day of his life to support HA, I think we can forgive him ...
Tom Parker Bowles took longer to emerge from make-up than his fellow tramps. "It's hard to make an aristo look rough", quipped Marco.
Look out for the resulting adverts in future issues of Caterer and Hotelkeeper.