In 2003, Daniel Nicholls was on Sydney’s Bondi Beach at the start of his gap year. Standing in shallow water up to his knees, he dived into an oncoming wave only to hit a sandbank that lay hidden beneath the water. The force of the impact broke his neck, leaving him paralysed from the arms down.
His father, acclaimed chef David Nicholls, immediately set about raising money to help bring his son home for rehabilitation, but his aims eventually soared higher than that. There are 2.5 million people worldwide living with paralysis caused by spinal-cord injury, and the money that the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation raises now funds research for treatment breakthroughs.
The latest fundraising effort in aid of the charity is one to savour, with the opportunity to experience the very best culinary talent that Kent has to offer. On Monday March 17, the five Michelin-starred chefs in the county will come together at Chapter One restaurant – where Daniel used to work before his accident – to prepare a special seven-course menu (£120 a head). The central theme will be a celebration of the best of Kentish food, which will not only have been cooked by the chefs, but in many cases, foraged and fished by them, too.
The evening will start with the popping of champagne corks and consumption of canapés. Steve Harris from The Sportsman will then offer amuse-bouches of local oysters, followed by Daniel Hatton from Thackeray’s starter of roast saddle of local wild rabbit. Graham Garret, whose cosy The West House restaurant is inside a beamed weaver’s cottage, will be responsible for a warm escabeche of local wild sea bass. Andy McLeish, chef patron at Chapter One itself, will then cook a roast saddle of Chart Farm sika venison, as well as make sure that too many cooks won’t spoil the broth. Lastly, a dessert of warm brioche and Bramley apple Charlotte finishes the meal, courtesy of Tim Johnson from Apicius.
A mouthwatering menu indeed, but also a valiant way to help those like Daniel enjoy a better life.