What do 13 of Australasia's best chefs eat when they get together for breakfast 194m above downtown Auckland?
It's not as complicated as you might think.
Fruit salad, granola and yoghurt and a good "fry up" of bacon, sausages, eggs and roast tomatoes washed down with coffee or juice were on the menu for Peter Gordon and the dozen other top chefs, including Depot's Al Brown, MASU's Nic Watt and MasterChef-winning sisters Karena and Kasey Bird, who shared breakfast together at The Sugar Club — a chef's tradition — before getting to work for the SKYCITY Dining for a Difference event last night.
The 300-seat fine dining charity dinner, set up by internationally celebrated Kiwi chef Peter Gordon, has since 2007 raised more than $1.25 million for beneficiary Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, which supports people with blood cancers, and their families.
In his restaurant near the top of the Sky Tower, Gordon said the chef's breakfast was always a very casual get-together with simple food.
"As much as we like fancy food, for breakfast we really just want a bacon fry up."
It was a good start to a day supporting a cause close to Gordon's heart — he was a successful bone marrow donor for his sister, Tracey, after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 1994.
"It was awful [hearing about her diagnosis], but being a donor was so easy. You have a general anaesthetic and they take fluid from your hip ... and it was just a couple of days recovery for me."
But those gathered for yesterday morning's pre-event breakfast were also there in support of another colleague, Auckland's The Grounds head chef Mike Shatura, whose 6-year-old daughter Maya was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia aged 3.
Shatura said his daughter had not long finished three years of on-and-off rounds of chemotherapy and was now having her immune system rebuilt.
The experience of supporting the younger of his two children go through treatment that had left her with a legacy of more than 900 beads of courage — colourful beads given to children for each treatment or procedure — had been, at times, "hideous".
"It's been a big journey. Emotionally, the lack of sleep, financially. The toughest part was getting a 3-year-old to understand what's going on."
Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand had been a huge support, helping with accommodation and organising events for children such as his daughter.
He was "super proud" to help at last night's charity dinner, and of those who gave their time alongside him.
"It makes me happy to see there's good people out there."
Maya was doing well — her hair had grown back and she was getting support for lingering effects of her treatment, Shatura said.
"She's a trooper. She's stronger than anybody."
Kasey Bird said her family had also been affected by leukaemia and other cancers.
"It's a great cause, and it's a great way to be creative, learn from others and connect with other [chefs] in New Zealand and Australia."
The other New Zealand-based chefs involved last night were The Sugar Club's Josh Barlow, Giulio Sturla, of Roots Restaurant in Lyttleton, Kate Fay of Auckland's Cibo, Leslie Hottiaux, of Apēro, also in Auckland, and Vaughan Mabee, of Queenstown's Amisfield Bistro.
Three chefs travelled from Australia: Ali Currey-Voumard, of The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery in Tasmania, Cory Campbell, of Bangaroo House in Sydney, and Thi le, of Anchovy in Melbourne.
As well as raising money to help Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand support the 2200 Kiwis diagnosed annually with blood cancers, such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, Gordon wanted to encourage more people to be tested as potential bone marrow donors.
That was especially true for those in minority groups, where there would likely be fewer compatible matches for those in need.
"It's a really painless procedure."
• Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand does not receive government funding and is supported entirely by voluntary donations from supporters, sponsors and fundraisers. To help, go to www.leukaemia.org.nz