HRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a Taste of Norfolk charity gala dinner at Houghton Hall on Wednesday evening.
The Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley hosted the five-course dinner, which was in aid of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), for which the Duchess is a patron.
Eighty guests were invited to the event, which began with a champagne reception, where the royal couple had the chance to meet the five Michelin-star chefs who composed a special menu for the evening.
The Duchess told the chefs: “William has to put up with my cooking most of the time.”
The Prince said: “It’s the reason I’m so skinny.”
He added that he was relieved England were drawn against Iceland in the next round of the Euro 2016 tournament rather than Portugal, predicting France would be the team’s next opponents.
Galton Blackiston, Sat Bains, Claude Bosi, Tom Kerridge and Mark Edwards created the menu, which included scallops, sea bass, venison from the estate, and local strawberries and raspberries in a blueberry and cider coulis.
Prince William asked the chefs how they came to work together. Mr Blackiston, proprietor of Morston Hall Hotel in north Norfolk, said they had become friends through shooting parties, adding: “We don’t hit a lot mind you.”
Guests from all over the world came to support the gala including America and Hong Kong, in addition to some more local names as well.
Henry Bellingham, North West Norfolk MP, said: “It’s a great event, it’s such a privilege having the Duke and Duchess here, it’s such a really good cause.”
The event was organised to raise funds for EACH’s nook appeal, which hopes to build a new hospice on a five-acre site in Framingham Earl.
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, in whose constituency the new hospice will be built, said: “I think it’s marvellous that we’ve got a large number of supporters here who are going to help in a big way.”
Before he returned to the kitchen with his team, Mr Blackiston said he had been moved by a visit to EACH’s current hospice, at Quidenham, last week, after he agreed to become involved with the dinner.
“I was asked if I could do anything to support this evening,” he said. “I thought I know a few guys who could help out and they jumped at it.”
EACH ambassador, author Anthony Horowitz, addressed guests at the reception on the lawn of the late 17th Century mansion.
Mr Horowitz said the current Quidenham Hospice was “in the middle of nowhere” and inadequate for the region’s terminally-ill children and their families’ needs.
“The nook will have wide corridors, wide doors, and everything on one floor. It will have a hydrotherapy pool, a proper music room, an art room - and every penny that we raise will be used for a specific purpose - whether it’s £300 for a fridge, £7,000 for a hoist or £205,000 for a single room.
“At the nook, children will have film nights and sleepovers. They’ll make pizzas. They’ll be able to chill out. Of course these are things are own children take for granted – but for them it will be utterly special, even unique.”
EACH hope the event will raise more than £100,000 for the new hospice, work on which is due to start in 2018. The current total stands at £2,5m.