Britain’s top chefs honour Quentin Crewe

Published Date
Kate Cleaver

Prue Leith CBE, will lead some of Britain’s top chefs when they gather to cook in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Great Chefs of France  – which Marco Pierre White said in October 2019, “is without question the greatest book ever published within the world of gastronomy.”

Rowley Leigh, Richard Corrigan, Skye Gyngell and the Galvin Brothers  will produce an epic dinner, hosted by Prue, to celebrate the book which was written by the late, great Quentin Crewe.

The high-profile event will be held at the Porchester Hall on Thursday 14 November, the day Quentin died, on his 72nd birthday, 21 years ago. He lived with muscular dystrophy for his entire life.

It has been organised by the Q Trust and is being led by Quentin’s daughter Candida, whose idea it was.  She is a committee member of the Trust which has raised over £2.5 million for Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) since it was set up in her father’s name three years after he died in 1998.

The chefs are Darina Allen, Sally Clarke, Matthew Fort, Chris and Jess Galvin, Skye Gyngell, Margot Henderson, Richard Corrigan, Rowley Leigh, Prue Leith, Tom Parker Bowles and Ruth Rogers with The River Café.

Candida Crewe said: “My father succeeded in pursuing his sometimes madcap ambitions and adventures which would have thwarted many an able-bodied man, and never allowed muscular dystrophy to stand in his way. Great Chefs of France is one of his most famous books, and has become a classic.  Marco told me it was that which inspired him to become a chef; Rowley Leigh, Jeremy Lee, Anton Mosimann, and so many other chefs, have all raved about it and cite it as a long-term favourite. Celebrating it like this is a brilliant way to mark its 40th anniversary and raise money for muscular dystrophy at the same time.”

 About the Great Chefs of France

Quentin Crewe and photographer Anthony Blake, who died recently, travelled round France in the mid-1970s visiting, interviewing and taking pictures of the most famous chefs alive, and their amazing food.  There were only 18 Michelin three star restaurants in the whole of France at the time. They went to the thirteen outside Paris which were dotted all over the country.  It was an epic journey.  Quentin had advertised in the Times for an exceptionally strong and greedy young man to be his “pusher” and companion. The 22 year old wonderful Pier Russell-Cobb got the job, and the pair had to eat three or four-course very rich and elaborate lunches and dinners every day, plus large amounts of wine.  The heart may not bleed but it was some task.  They were green at the gills.  Piers told Candida Crewe he put on two stone in six weeks – and forty years later, he laughs, “I’ve never lost it”.  The book went on to achieve international acclaim – even published in Japanese, among many other languages – and is considered by many chefs to be something of a gastronomic bible.


The Q Trust is focused on raising funds to develop the new MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre, which will increase clinical trial capacity across the UK.

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