Candlelighter Charity Ball 2017

Candlelighter Charity Ball 2017

I was honoured last year for Crackerjack BBQ to be invited to cater the Harrogate Candlelighters annual Charity Ball. 460 guests… in a tent … in a field!

The event was scheduled for the first Saturday in December, the theme was Apres Ski, but unfortunately there wasn’t any snow. The venue was the Deer Park of Ripley Estates, a beautiful setting next to the lake with fabulous views.


The week of the ball was soon upon us and I popped up to the venue to have a look at the “tent” being put up. Nine Tipi tents were joined together in a huge construction that looked more like a Village than a marquee courtesy of Boutipi Ltd. Inside the set up was a large circular dining room with open log fires, a stage area, reception and bar area, all lit with thousands of fairy lights with our huge catering field kitchen attached at the back.

The weekend arrived, very wet and freezing cold. We set up the dining room and 54 long tables were laid with 460 napkins, sets of cutlery, wine and water glasses and Christmas crackers.

The bar was set up and the kitchen was prepped and we were ready to go by mid afternoon. The smokers and grills were full and the hot cabinets were bursting with food. Four Chefs and eight kitchen staff in place, the kitchen tents didn’t seem that big anymore, especially with the arrival of 82 front of house staff made up of team leaders, bar and waiting staff.

The first course on the menu was Vacherin cheese rounds. A young aged cheese that was heated on the smoker and melted into a creamy pot of sweet fruity and earthy dip served with flatbread.

The main course that followed was smoked pork rib eye, smoked and roasted chicken breast and German bratwurst Sausage skewers with a fillet of lightly smoked salmon on the side accompanied with farfallette potatoes, salad and coleslaw. All individually plated and served to table.

Finally, dessert; a rich individual chocolate mousse with edible flowers and chocolate soil.


All food was served within an hour and a half and made way for the charity auction. Over £57,000 was raised throughout the evening for the Charity, including my auction lot of a Personal BBQ Party which sold for £4,000 and the total was then match-funded by the Kentown Wizard Foundation. Fantastic!


Following the auction, we rounded off the evening with our Bavarian and gangster dressed bar staff, going table to table selling shots to guests from shots guns and holsters. Lots of fun. This was after we served a Champagne reception, a full bar and loads of beers. We can do it all!

Now all we had to do was pack it all down again … after a well deserved beer or two!