Business gets cooking

Published 15 February 2012 13:44, Updated 16 February 2012 05:11

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Cooking is big business: we know that chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver head multi-million dollar cooking empires but with the inaugural Charity CEO Cook-off in Sydney last week it became obvious cooking also has a following at the top of big business.

That’s because more than 130 chief executives turned up to cook 1000 meals for homeless people at the event in Sydney’s Cathedral Square and raised $1 million for the homeless.

Coca-Cola Amatil chief executive Terry Davis loves to cook. In fact, he prefers to demonstrate his prowess in the kitchen at home than go out to eat.

His favourite recipe of Coca-Cola ham (included here) comes from his entrepreneurial 15-year-old son, who discovered he could get a ham, cook it and make a profit selling it in rolls at school.

Despite his preference for home-made chow, Davis was pumped up about cooking with 30 of the top chefs on the eastern seaboard on the night, including Rockpool’s Neil Perry and Quay’s Peter Gilmore. Other chefs flew in from Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.

Paul Hilgers, the chief executive of high frequency trading firm Optiver, was also there even though his wife was expecting their fourth child at 7am the next morning.

Hilgers was the second-highest money raiser and nearly topped Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, which would have been a bit embarrassing as Qantas is the main sponsor. Joyce kept his spot as top money raiser even after entrepreneur Dick Smith kicked in $100,000 at the last minute.

That morning, Joyce had been at a senate inquiry in Canberra and he has rarely been off newspaper front pages of late as he tries to reorganise Qantas into a sustainable airline.

He says he found the event a “real leveller – you can get caught up in the business world and then you come here and you’re dealing with real people and talking about real problems and it just shifts your perspective.”

Elizabeth Ann Macgregor is the chief executive of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which is close to finishing a $50 million renovation and extension.

Macgregor was sporting a plaster on a cut finger but said she signed up for the cook-off as it, “sparked the imagination. It’s an event about sharing and involving people and not just giving money”.

The funds raised go to OzHarvest, a charity that provides meals to homeless people and Mission Australia, which supports families and individuals in trouble and aims to help them towards a better life.

The CEOs were cooking from a set menu but BRW has included each of their favourite recipes here – just in case you find yourself in the lucky situation of having to whip something up for them quickly.

Should that happen, you’ll know exactly what to serve each of them.

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