This Saturday is National Lamington Day – as good an excuse as any to visit your favourite bakery or whip up a batch of your own shaggy, coconut-covered treats. But if you did need another reason to partake in the festivities, Sydney restaurant Bennelong have got the goods: all sales of its Cherry Jam Lamington on Saturday 21 July will go towards mental health charity R U OK?, which encourages more open conversations about mental health.
"With the prevalence of mental health difficulties in the hospitality industry it is really important for us to play any part we can," says John Fink, Creative Director of Fink Group, which owns Bennelong. "Not only [by] raising funds but to also shed light on the struggles faced in the restaurant business, and more importantly the amazing support that R U OK? provides."
The charity offers advice, education and resources on how to ask difficult questions that, ultimately, may lead to co-workers, family or friends seeking support for depression or anxiety. The hospitality industry is increasingly acknowledging the significant toll that long hours, tough working conditions and an anti-social work roster can take on individuals, including high-profile chefs such as Jeremy Strode who took his own life last year. Strode himself was a strong supporter of R U OK?
Bennelong's lamington may have some purists clutching their pearls but it remains one of the restaurant's most popular desserts since gracing the opening menu in July 2015. The coconut appears not on the lamington itself but as curls of coconut-milk parfait that surround a square of ganache-coated sponge cake and cherry-jam and coconut ice-cream. On National Lamington Day, it'll be available in all areas of the restaurant, including the bar, at both lunch and dinner, with every dollar being donated to R U OK?
If you need support, contact Lifeline (13 11 14, lifeline.org.au) or Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467, suicidecallbackservice.org.au).
Bennelong, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 8000, bennelong.com.au