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June 22, 2016 05:20 PM

Mix two royals, five Michelin-star chefs and one grand country house and you have a recipe for the ultimate summer date night.

Princess Kate and Prince William stepped out on Wednesday for a gala evening hosted by their friends, the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley, at the aristocrats’ stately home, Houghton Hall.

Leaving their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte at their nearby country house, Anmer Hall, the royal parents drove the four miles to Houghton Hall for the evening of entertainment and fine dining.

Kate, in a dazzling Jenny Packham rewear from 2011, suggested William was looking forward to a break from her cooking when the couple attended the gala dinner.

“William has to put up with my cooking most of the time,” Kate told the chefs.

William quipped: “It’s the reason I’m so skinny.”

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But Wednesday’s menu featured a sumptuous, locally sourced feast prepared by some of the world’s top chefs. Among the mouthwatering items on the menu: squid ink cracker with Morston smoked salmon made by chef Galton Blackiston (of Morston Hall on the Norfolk coast), scallop ceviche by chef Sat Bains (Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham), wild sea bass by Claude Bosi (Hibiscus in London), loin of Houghton venison with summer beetroot purée by Tom Kerridge (The Hand and Flowers in Harlow) and Norfolk raspberries, strawberries, cider and blueberry coulis by Nobu’s Mark Edwards.

Stephen Pond/Getty

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The evening, for some 80 invited guests, benefited the fund to build a new hospice for one of Kate’s key charities, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. Organizers hope that they will raise around $700,000 toward the $14 million target. Kate helped kick off the appeal in November 2014.

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Prince William and Princess Kate at the ARK 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner in 2011
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

The evening featured a performance by the charity’s own Treehouse choir. There was also a speech from Charlotte Markham, whose family received care and support from EACH when her son Elliot died at just a few hours old.

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The new center, called The Nook, will be built on a five-acre woodland site and will offer services including a hydrotherapy pool, music studio and large rooms for on-site family support groups. There will also be a greater and more accessible space for children to explore and play outside.

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EACH Patron and event organizer Emma Deterding said in a statement, “The Nook is now one step closer, and we are incredibly grateful to all our guests for donating significant money toward the building of the new hospice. We want everyone to spread the word about the amazing work of EACH and desperately need the nook to become a reality as soon as possible.”

Offering a speech at the end of dinner, author Anthony Horowitz said, “I’d like to start by making three very quick thank you’s. The first of course to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for being here tonight. The duchess is a wonderfully active, involved and enlightened royal patron to EACH: It’s a pleasure to see her. And I only hope the duke has a more satisfying evening that he had on Monday night at Saint-Etienne. So much effort for so little result. Let’s hope we can t say the same about tonight!”

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