special featuresadvertorial

Why The Soul Food Project Director Dom Clarke took his cooking talents to Calais to feed refugees

Dom Clarke set to continue his charity mission closer to home

Dom Clarke with fellow volunteer chef Tim Sheenan cooking Peel & Stone bread pudding for 1,000 migrants

The Soul Food Director Dom Clarke has told how he chose to ignore the political situation in Calais to feed people in need.

The businessman spent three days volunteering for the Refugee Community Kitchen with his pal Lap-fai Lee.

The experience has encouraged him to continue his charitable work to take up the Great Birmingham Run Business Challenge with Peel & Stone head chef Sally White, shop manager Ming Nahm and pastry chef Emma Kirby.

“Lap had already volunteered in Calais and I just felt ‘I need to do that – I can cook and should go over and help’,” said Dom, co-owner of The Soul Food Project, which runs the two Peel & Stone outlets – in the Jewellery Quarter and Harborne – and The Church pub, Great Hampton St.

“We got loads and loads of really generous donations, filled up the bakery van with onions, herbs and spices and drove over. We were there in six hours.

“We cooked in a mesh tent inside a warehouse just a few miles from the camp. It’s completely powered by volunteers. Some people have been helping there for six months, which is incredible.

“It’s a very political situation, but it wasn’t like that at all for me. I agree with how the RCK think – migrants are human beings who need to eat. Other than the clothes on their back, they have absolutely nothing.

“They’ve literally walked there from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Morocco – that’s a staggering thought.

“I’m not intelligent enough to find a solution to the problem, but regardless of whether you think they should be there or be allowed into this country, they’re human beings, including children, who are hungry.”

Dom Clarke and Lap-fai Lee prepare to leave for Calais

Dom claims his experience in France was incredibly moving.

“We walked through the camp and felt no hostility whatsoever,” he added.

“In one day, you saw the best and worst of the world. You witnessed the by-product of war, intolerances and suffering and then, in the warehouse, you’re surrounded by people who have given up their lives to help them.”

Dom, who has committed Peel & Stone to the Cook for Syria initiative in November, added: “I can’t tell you how much fun stirring food for 3,000 people with a paddle was!

“We generally cooked vegetarian meals, like dhal, for 1,700 people, as meat is too expensive.

“I also made 1,000 portions of bread pudding and cracked 1,380 eggs in making a huge Frittata. I know this because the eggs came in trays of 36 and I counted the empties afterwards!”

Dom’s next task will be counting down the miles during the Business Challenge, which over 400 runners have signed up for, on Sunday (October 16).

The Peel & Stone quartet are among 20,000 runners expected to tackle the UK’s second-largest half marathon, will compete in the ‘Small Business, Mixed Team’ category.

But Dom reckons they’ve more chance of bagging the wooden spoon than silverware!

Dom Clarke, Emma Kirby, Ming Nahm and Sally White

“Sally casually did 13 miles the other day and Ming’s a keen runner but with me being an irregular runner, and having practically forced Emma into doing it, we’re a bit of a mixed bag!” he quipped.

Supported by The Birmingham Post, entries for the Business Challenge, pits companies against each other to see which teams can record the fastest times to win trophies.

Any business entering 12 or more runners automatically gets a trophy in the name of the company’s fastest finisher and all businesses feature in a special- edition magazine.

Peel & Stone is fundraising for a cause close to home, Autism West Midlands, as two team members’ relatives suffer from the condition.

To sponsor the Peel & Stone team, visit: justgiving.com/peelandstone

Who will Peel & Stone compete against?

Other companies taking part in the Business Challenge are

ATSG Compliance

Charter Court Financial Services

Davies Group

Delcam

Highways England

HSBC

JW Hinks LLP

KPMG

Lambert Smith Hampton

Lion Picture Framing Supplies

Mainstay Residential

Mazars LLP

Peers Hardy UK

Sigma Components

Squire Patton Boggs

Tata Motors European Tech Centre

West Brom Building Society

See Great Birmingham Run highlights below

How to enter the Great Birmingham Run

Over 16,000 individual runners have already signed up for the Great Birmingham Run. To sign up, visit here

Anyone who ran this year’s Great Birmingham 10k is eligible for an exclusive £10 discount to take part in the half-marathon, which costs £35, on Sunday, October 16.

Entrants for this year’s 13.1-mile race through the city – taking in famous landmarks including the Bullring, Edgbaston Cricket Ground and Cadbury’s – have been given priority entry to the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon on Sunday, October 15, 2017.

To enter the marathon, which costs £55, click here

View full mobile page