CREAM of London’s business and culinary talent last night came together at Guildhall for the Square Mile Salute fundraiser to support the armed forces.

Owen Paterson, secretary of state for Northern Ireland, was guest of honour at the military fundraiser, where 13 of the world’s top chefs – including John Williams of The Ritz and Christian Garcia, chef to His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco – had prepared a six-course charity banquet with matching wines and champagnes.

The evening was all about “pleasure, bon vivant and networking”, said lead chef Raymond Blanc, who declared himself a fan of the City as he opened the evening. “I like it so much, I opened Brasserie Blanc on Threadneedle Street,” he said.

The Lady Mayoress Liz Wootton and Gilly Yarrow, wife of the sheriff of the City of London, arrived together while their husbands are in Dubai as part of a tour selling the City to Middle Eastern business – “we think we’ve got the better deal”, said Yarrow – while General Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, caught up with Second Sea Lord Charles Montgomery and private secretary to the Lord Mayor William Chapman.

The fundraiser was held in aid of four soldiers’ charities – Help for Heroes, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, The Royal British Legion and the Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund. Auction prizes included four days skiing with Olympic downhill champion Franz Klammer and a five-night stay at Albany, the Bahamas resort owned by billionaire Joe Lewis’s Tavistock Holdings.

Lewis, The Capitalist hears, is a keen player of paddle tennis, even though he turned 80 earlier this month. “He keeps beating me,” complained Lewis’s much younger opponent Darren Renwick, a professional golfer.