These CEOs cook for a cause

Bangalore, DNA, 5th-September-2010
As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled — Victor Hugo, French poet

"Nothing's better than having fun and raising money for a good cause at the same time," says Paolo Lanzarotti, managing director, SABmiller, India. Lanzarotti was one of the eleven chief executives who spent their Saturday cooking by the poolside in the City's ITC Windsor to raise money for the medical treatment of four underprivileged children -- 16-year-old Vinod Narayan, who is suffering from a neuromuscular kypho scoliosis deformity, 14-months-old Naitik Sharma, who has been diagnosed with Thalassemia, four-year-old Ansh, who is suffering from retinoblastoma of the left eye and four-year-old Sumit, who is a victim of congenital heart disease.

The event, called CEO Chefs Share-a-Smile Lunch, was organised by Genesis Foundation, an NGO that provides life-saving and life-changing medical and financial support to critically ill children who are either from orphanages or come from homes where the income is less than Rs5,000 per month.

"We've already raised Rs8 lakh from the Share-a-Smile lunch," says Prema Sagar, head, Genesis Foundation, adding that they've raised more than Rs15 lakh through similar events organised in Delhi, Gurgaon and Mumbai. "We've created a platform for such events and plan to continue this year after year to fund medical treatment for children who can't afford it. Hundred per cent of the proceeds are given to the cause as sponsors take care of the administrative costs of such events."

While most Saturdays are spent de-stressing and spending time with friends and family, this Saturday was a welcome change for most of the chief executives present at the event.

"I like cooking and try and do it whenever I find time. And, CEO Chefs Share-a-Smile Lunch is very special as I am cooking for a cause and it's all the more meaningful," says Dr Gopichand Katragadda, senior general manager, GE Infrastructure.

"For me, charity is something that completes a person and is an important part of life. Apart from raising money this way, I've also been involved in starting my own NGO in 2002 and doing volunteer work like teaching children from underprivileged backgrounds."

For Rekha M Menon, executive director, Accenture, too, "charity is an important part of life".

"I also think that there is immense happiness in giving somebody something that they need. Apart from making it to events like these, I work with a number of NGOs too," says Menon, who was busy preparing Greek salads for guests at the Windsor, participated in the event even though she isn't particularly fond of cooking.

Brand Ambassador of Genesis Foundation and Miss India 2008, Parvathy Omanakuttan added the glamour element to the event. "I've met the four children who have been identified by the Genesis Foundation and it feels fulfiling to be doing something for them; helping people gives me immense satisfaction," she says.

Brand manager Harish Bijoor was also present but stayed away from participating in cooking as he believes, "I'm a lousy cook”. He adds, "I just came here to watch my friends cook for a good cause."

Apart from raising money from executives and sponsors, guests also contributed by paying Rs10,000 for attending the lunch.