Chefs cook for a cause at Cafe Zoe's Food with Benefits dinner

Published: 03 November, 2013 07:09 IST | Dhiman Chattopadhyay |

On November 11, 55 lucky diners will enjoy a meal whipped up by five of the city's best - known chefs at the Food with Benefits dinner at Caf � Zoe. The proceeds will go towards the treatment of mentally- challenged men and women, often abandoned by their families. DHIMAN CHATTOPADHYAY finds out how the chefs as well as the partnering NGO, Manav Foundation, stumbled upon this idea

This is a dinner that promises to give a lot of satisfaction. The food cannot be anything but terrific with five of Mumbai’s most talented chefs ( who also happen to own popular restaurants) joining hands to whip up a storm in the kitchen.

The Food with Benefits dinner promises to be a sell-out this year too

The five course meal — open only to the first 55 people who book their seats — will have a salad, two appetisers, a sorbet, a main course and a dessert, each made by a different chef.

Chef Viraf Patel of Cafe Zoe

But the real satisfaction will come from the knowledge that a large chunk of what each diner pays for the meal on November 11 at Café Zoe, will not bolster the coffers of the restaurant but go towards the treatment of the mentally- challenged men and women under the wings of the Manav Foundation.

“Mangal Dalal and Shivani Dhansali who knew of our work, approached us last year with the idea that we have a charity dinner to raise money for the mentally challenged who are often left to fend for themselves by their families. We loved the idea as it would take our work to a larger audience and create awareness.

The Food with Benefits event was sold out last time and so, we are back this year,” says Meena Mutha of Manav Foundation.

“ We were happy to host and loved the idea equally but I realised that it was impossible for one person to handle this. So five of us joined hands to host the event last year,” recalls Viraf Patel, the owner and executive chef at Café Zoe.

This year too, the foundation and the chefs have come together to host the dinner at Zoe. The Food with Benefits dinner will be a 55- seater affair with each patron shelling out somewhere around R 3,000 ( the amount has not been fixed yet) for a meal, from which R 2,000 will go to Manav Foundation. “ We will just be covering basic cost,” says Patel who will be joined this year by Kshama Prabhu of White Owl, Irfan Pabaney of Sassy Spoon, Pooja Dhingra of Le 15 Patisserie and Jaideep Mukherjee of Indigo Deli.

The chefs are making sure even the dishes have “benefits.” “While the name suggests that revenues from this diner will benefit the less fortunate, we have made sure that this year we include a lot of nuts and berries as well as pumpkin seeds and olive oil in our cooking so that diners learn about food items that help our mental faculties as well,” explains Patel.

The hosts are expecting a full house and, in fact, so enthused are they by the idea that plans are afoot to expand the gang of chefs and do the Food with Benefit dinners not as an annual but as a monthly event across different restaurants. “ Each host can choose a charity of his or her choice and we all will meet at that restaurant and cook up a storm.

Last year was an amazing learning experience for me and we are all looking forward to taking the Food with Benefits dinners to different locations through the year,” says Pooja Dhingra, chef and owner of Le 15 Patisserie.

Sounds like a plan.

Registration to book a seat or a table for the Food with Benefits night opens on November 6. Log on to or email foundation. manav@ gmail. com. For more info, call Cafe Zoe at 24902065. Todi Mathuradas Mill Compound, 126, NM Joshi Marg, Lower Parel

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