I don’t know what you were doing last Wednesday morning but I spent mine in the company of three inquisitive dogs and ten remarkable chefs. After recently naming a stellar lineup of 10 nationally acclaimed chefs for the 2014 Variety of Chefs Ball in Brisbane, Variety – the Children’s Charity of Queensland held an event to announce how the money raised at the charity ball would be spent. It will help fund life-changing Variety Assistance Dogs to enhance the lives of special needs children.
In a ‘don’t stare, it’s rude’ situation, all 10 chefs strolled into Vintaged Bar + Grill at the Hilton Brisbane to launch the event and spend some time with doggie ambassadors Cocker Spaniel Gallen and Labradoodle Benkei. But it was hard not to stare and point cameras in people’s faces when there was so much talent in the one room! The 10 chefs sharing morning tea with the dogs and I were:
• Ben O’Donoghue – owner chef at Billy Kart Kitchen, Brisbane
• Matt Moran – ARIA Restaurants Brisbane and Sydney, Riverbar Kitchen
• Jiro Numata – Executive Chef at Wasabi, Noosa
• Adrian Richardson – owner chef at La Luna in Melbourne
• David Pugh – owner chef at Restaurant 2 in Brisbane
• Ben Williamson – Executive Chef at Gerard’s Bistro, Brisbane
• Kym Machin – owner chef at Bare Bones Society, Brisbane
• Jeremy Clark – Executive Chef at the Brisbane Hilton
• Matt Golinski – chef and inspirational speaker
• Alastair McLeod – Alfreshco
The star of the show though was a funny little mutt called Ernie. He may have been small in stature but was big in talent as he went through his paces. Retrieving hats and wallets, placing rubbish in bins, turning on lights and even picking up a 20c piece from the ground, Ernie showed us just what an Assistance Dog can do.
“Assistance Dogs are individually trained to support an individual child’s particular needs, whether that be turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, picking up or retrieving dropped or wanted items, and to indicate when their child needs assistance either by alerting a carer or by pushing a medical alarm. These are very, very special dogs,” said Melanie Jefcoate, Corporate Events Manager for Variety Queensland.
Training these brilliant animals is not cheap – on average $15,000 is needed to find and in some cases breed, train and place each Assistance Dog with no aid from the government or the family receiving the dog. The dogs are often saved from Animal Rescue shelters, so can be a range of breeds – as long as the dog has the right qualities for the child, anything from Cocker Spaniels to Labradors to Springer Spaniels and Cavaliers can be trained. Whilst former show dog Gallen was beautiful and aloof, it was cute, scruffy shelter rescue dog Ernie who was the crowd pleaser.
“The power of a canine companion is unable to be valued; from the unconditional love and emotional dedication they provide, to the support and operational facilitation they offer. Assistance dogs are working with children with various conditions including Cerebral Palsy, Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Spina Bifida and Down Syndrome,” said celeb chef Adrian Richardson.
Canapés will be created by Jeremy Clark and David Pugh. There are two entrees for the evening; the first will be created by Jiro Numata and Ben Williamson, the second by Kym Machin and Ben O’Donoghue. Main Course will be delivered by Adrian Richardson and Matt Moran, and Dessert by Alastair McLeod and Matt Golinski. If you can’t make the Brisbane Variety of Chefs Ball, similar events are also being held in Perth and Sydney.
Variety is dedicated to empowering Australian children who are sick, disadvantaged or who have special needs to LIVE, LAUGH and LEARN and for special kids to lead engaged and fulfilling lives. This year, the aim is to raise a minimum of $150,000; this is enough to train 10 Assistance Dogs, each assigned to change the life of a child with physical and special needs. 10 Chefs – 10 Dogs – 10 Small Lives Changed
2014 Variety of Chefs Ball
When: 6.30pm Saturday 14 June 2014
Where: The Grand Ballroom / Hilton Brisbane
Dress: Black Tie/Formal
Cost: $275 per person / tables of ten $2750
Tickets: 07 3907 9306 or firstname.lastname@example.org
*The Variety Assistance Dog program aims to raise as much money as possible to ensure as many dogs are trained as possible. The basic cost for a reliable, sociable Assistance Dog for a child with physical special needs with several tasks and public access is approximately on average $15,000.00.