The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gala guests opt for quick curry

When you are sitting at a '12,000 table, Gordon Ramsay is providing the food and Sting the entertainment, you don't expect to have to buy in a takeaway.

But that is exactly what Ivan Massow, the millionaire former head of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), did when he attended a star-studded charity gala.

Fed up with waiting almost two hours for his dinner at a Christmas party in aid of Unicef, the entrepreneur ordered food for his table from an Indian restaurant across the road.

As the three Michelin-starred chef prepared cod with cubed potato starters, the former Tory party adviser and his friends tucked into plates of poppadams, chicken tikka masala and king prawn bhuna.

Massow said: 'We were not trying to cause trouble, or courting an audience, we were just hungry. People had drunk a lot of Dom Perignon champagne and it was late and we all had work the next day and kids at home and needed to eat. It was just a practical measure.

'At first when I suggested it, people thought it was a joke. But they were relieved when it arrived. People from the surrounding tables were coming over and taking our poppadams. It became a bit embarrassing.'

Massow, 36, who quit as chairman of the ICA in 2002 after describing conceptual art as 'self-indulgent craftless tat', had attended the annual dinner with his friends in the grand hall of Old Billingsgate Market, London, on Monday.

Named after the film, La Dolce Vita, it offered 'an experience of your dreams' from 8 pm until 3 am, all in aid of Unicef's End Child Exploitation campaign.

For '12,000 plus VAT for a VIP table of 10, guests, who included Zara Philips, Jemima Khan, Charlotte Church and Sadie Frost, were promised an 'evening of pure indulgence', compered by Johnny Vaughn, the television presenter, and hosted by Trudi Styler, the wife of Sting and the ambassador to Unicef UK.

Massow said he and his friends were waiting for more than an hour and a half.

Spotting the Rajasthan takeaway across the road, Massow came up with the solution. He ran over and returned minutes later with three bags full of curry, pilau rice and poppadams.

He said: 'By the time our turn had come they had run out of starters. People by then were saying, 'where is the food' It was all for charity. We just wanted to help out. I even ordered plastic plates. But the organisers were very upset that I had done it.

'To be honest, the curry was the more memorable meal.'

Ahmed Jalal, manager of Rajasthan which has been operating for six years, said it was the first time a guest at the venue had ventured over to his takeaway. 'This very well dressed man asked me, 'Can I have some quick food because we are all very hungry'.'

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