Top hotels and chefs in the city put together a buffet to raise funds for NGOs, as part of the ‘Joy of Giving Week’

Ten hotels. Seventy NGOs. Around 2,500 visitors.

The Battle of the Buffet, held recently at the Chennai Trade Centre to mark ‘Joy of Giving Week’ was about fabulous food, yes. But, it was also about music, connections and incredible generosity.

This unique fundraising dinner, now in its fourth year, brought together the city’s biggest hotels and best chefs. Each hotel sponsored a stall, offering buffets. In the spirit of giving, not only did the chefs produce their best food, but they also did it anonymously. There was a marked absence of signage at food counters, so the Indian-Italian-Mediterranean buffet flowed seamlessly from one end to the other.

The event began with an auction, featuring Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Louis Vuitton handbags donated by actors such as Trisha Krishnan, Radhika Sarathkumar, Lizzie Priyadarshan and Suhasini Mani Ratnam. Auctioned at a starting price of one-tenth of their original price, the bags raised a total of Rs. 69,500. The auction also featured Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s sari, which went for Rs. 40,000 and a Thota Tharrani that sold for Rs. 2,80,000. Then, as people gathered for dinner, singer Srinivas and his team performed live.

Stating that the total amount raised this year for the Battle of the Buffet amounts to Rs.2.18 crore, restaurateur M. Mahadevan, talked about how important it is to honour the work of the city’s NGOs. Since the event is completely sponsored, it costs the NGOs nothing, and all the funds raised go directly to them. Funds raised are used for causes such as educating children, providing shelter to the elderly, subsidising medical costs for the poor and rehabilitating the mentally ill.

‘Joy of Giving Week’ is India’s largest festival of giving. Completely volunteer-driven and publicly-owned, it encourages people to reach out to the less-privileged. The aim is to create a culture of giving. Started in 2009, it’s usually held during the week of Gandhi Jayanthi.