Most people will remember being told not to play with their food at some time in their life but on Monday last week, some very famous chefs encouraged young children to do exactly that. Painting with plankton with Ángel León or smearing themselves with chocolate with Eneko Atxa, were just two of the activities at the Chefs and Kids event in Los Monteros hotel in Marbella, an initiative in aid of Aldeas Infantiles (a charity which helps to provide education and homes to children with no family), organised by Avalon.
The top chefs, who brought with them a constellation of over 40 Michelin stars, met to give cookery workshops and a to prepare a charity dinner for two hundred guests.
“All the chefs we contacted said 'yes' straight away,” said the hotel manager, Fernando Al-Farkh at the inauguration of the event which was opened by Ángeles Muñoz, mayor of Marbella.
“It is a privilege and an honour that Marbella is so closely linked to haute cuisine and even more so that we are supporting an initiative like this one; Marbella is an ideal place for it,” she commented.
Her deputy, Jacobo Florido; José Moro, the president of Bodegas Emilio Moro; Javier Vigil, the regional director of Aldeas Infantiles; Benjamin Lana, editorial director of Regional Media from the Vocento group; and Carlos Maribona, food critic and contributor to Vocento; were also at opening ceremony.
Playing with colours
In total 24 chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants and 120 children aged between six and 12 years old from the Federico García Lorca, Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Platero and Santa Teresa schools in Marbella (selected through a painting competition) took part in the cooking sessions.
Nine-year-old Daniela Medina, was ambitious enough to make a pizza with the Kiko Moya team while Kevin Palma, 11, made sure his vegetable offering, proposed by Paco Roncero, was perfect, even though he didn't intend to eat it afterwards as he doesn't like vegetables. Twelve-year-old Lola Ogalla however, said she would definitely like to try the salmon rolls she made with Fina Puigdevall of the restaurant Les Cols.
“It's just a case of insisting and playing with the colours, making fruit and vegetables easy to eat,” said Puigdevall while helping her young kitchen assistants who were desperate to get autographs from all the chefs. Dani García even had a queue waiting for him: “It is probably because everyone knows me around here,” he clarified in front of his legion of followers.
Others had done their homework such as the students from the Nuestra Señora del Carmen school, and had already completed projects on healthy eating habits and even started their own vegetable plots.
The garden of the hotel was filled with laughter, colour and the odd battle with chocolate and plankton with not a single chef being left without some 'war wound' on his jacket.
Jacobo Florido underlined the purpose of the event: “This is what we need to instil in children, that with hard work and effort you can do anything. The little ones deserve happiness.”
After all, they are the future, pointed out Martín Berasategui, “It is up to us to help them. We are the conveyors of happiness and they are the ones who convey most happiness to us.”
“They say that we are what we eat but I do not know if I want to be what I eat because today people do not eat well or take care of the planet. You have to start teaching children to care for the planet and to take care of themselves,” said Diego Guerrero, who has been working with Aldeas Infantiles for several years.
For the gala dinner that same evening, Dani García had designed a menu for the guests which he prepared along with eight other chefs. The two hundred diners paid 350 euros each for the meal with the proceeds going to Aldeas Infantiles.