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How your Sunday lunch can help Australian bushfire relief effort

PUBLISHED: 12:20 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:31 16 January 2020

Firefighters fighting the bush fires in New South Wales, Australia. Picture: Blair Webster/Gary Danvers Collection/Flickr

Firefighters fighting the bush fires in New South Wales, Australia. Picture: Blair Webster/Gary Danvers Collection/Flickr

Gary Danvers Collection/Flickr

Chef turned cheesemaker Blake Bowden is holding a community lunch at Farmyard in Norwich on Sunday January 26 to raise funds for the Australian bushfire relief effort.

A cimmunity Sunday lunch is being held at Farmyard in St Benedict's Street, Norwich, to raise money for the Australian bushfire relief effort. Picture: Emily RevellA cimmunity Sunday lunch is being held at Farmyard in St Benedict's Street, Norwich, to raise money for the Australian bushfire relief effort. Picture: Emily Revell

Watching the devastating images of destruction as bushfires ravaged communities in Australia, Blake Bowden says that he "felt a long way from home and quite helpless living here in the UK."

The Norwich-based chef turned cheesemaker grew up in northern New South Wales, one of the areas hardest hit by the fires. And on Sunday January 26 he will be cooking a community lunch at Farmyard in St Benedict's Street in the city to raise money for those affected.

"I asked myself what I could do to contribute and cooking is what I do best, so thought I could use my contacts to try and orchestrate a community effort in Norwich to help devastated communities in Australia," he says.

Money raised will be split equally between the Australian Red Cross Bushfire Appeal and WIRES animal rescue New South Wales.

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"There is no set price, but I will be asking people to donate as generously as possible as well as participate in the raffle we will have on the day, which will have some good tasty prizes. All proceeds from food and drink will go straight to charities and I am trying to keep overheads as minimal as possible to maximise our donation," he says.

Blake's menu consists of a traditional Sunday roast with slow roasted beef brisket and baked barley, celeriac and savoy cabbage roast for the non meat eaters, followed by pavlova, as well as cheese, coffee and biscuits.

Suppliers who've come on board so far are Easter's of Norwich, who are donating fruit and vegetables, Swannington Farm to Fork, which is providing the beef brisket, Kofra Coffee who are supplying coffee, plus bulk brewing kit, St Jude Cheese, Fen Farm Dairy, who are providing cheese, milk and butter and wine will come from CH Wine Merchants.

"I hope to get a couple more on board before the day. It's been so heartening how generous all the contributors have been, all I've done is asked and they have all surpassed expectations," says Blake, adding that he's hugely grateful to Hannah Springham and Andrew Jones, owners of Farmyard, where he used to be a chef, for letting him host the meal at their restaurant.

"This is the first time I've attempted to hold a charity event like this," says Blake. "My girlfriend Amy and I used to have supper clubs at our house a few years back so we are well versed in hosting events, as well as many years working in restaurants in Melbourne, London and Norwich.

"This event wouldn't have been able to happen were it not for Andrew and Hannah from Farmyard allowing us to use their gorgeous restaurant. They are such heroes and did not hesitate in getting on board and help driving it forward."

To book, contact Blake on 07917 312236 or email blakebowden@hotmail.com. Blake has also launched a Just Giving page for anyone who can't make it to the lunch but would like to make a donation. See justgiving.com/crowdfunding/charity-lunch-norwich for details.

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