Philip Atkins, MD & Founder of Off to Work, talks to leading event company leaders about planning their own party. Taking them through their venue of choice, the drinks, food, entertainment, celebrity guests, music and overall feel of the event we hear inspirational ideas, creative touches and learn what makes a great party.
While going through we also hear about their own career challenges, highs and lows and how they have successfully built their businesses up. This includes advice to others going through the trading difficulties brought on by Covid 19 from previous learnings.
One Amazing Experience with Nick Mead, World Environment Day Special
On World Environment Day I am delighted to be joined by Nick Mead, Managing Director of Eden Caterers for a One Amazing Experience special. Eden have been certified as one of the most sustainable caterers in the UK and have been awarded a 3 Star Food Made Good Rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
From having the Environment Trust as their first landlord to being invited to be part of the team to write the Sustainability policy for the London Olympics, which came to be ISO 2012, they have remained at the forefront of sustainable practises.
Nick talks us through his beautiful sunset party on a beach in Belize. From guests arriving by boat being met by steelpan drummers and mojitos and mango bellinis to then being served a sumptuous barbeque with lobster, prawns and lamb. The meal is finished with Sicilian Orange Gelato with Will Ferrell keeping the humour flowing and Bruno Mars doing a set to get the party really going.
Guests depart as sun rises by boat again with scuba gear at the ready after having given each other the gift of a big hug goodbye.
While going through it we touch on how sustainability practises are maintained through the company. This starts from all team members receiving sustainability training, having a clear annual sustainable development plan that is reviewed on annual basis, to having set principles on no single use plastic, zero to landfill, having their own beehives, doing a bike tour of the coastline of the UK and even going so far as to have a corn starch based alternative to clingfilm created for them.
Eden also focus on supporting their local community be this launching the Waterloo Foodbank Supporters scheme in 2013 to lending their vehicles to the Felix Project who have provided over 11 million meals to Londoners in need in 2021 alone.
It is an inspiring conversation showing how sustainability and care for the environment can remain at the core of a business and be supportive of a quality and commercial successful operation. Eden, in line with World Environment Day, really do reimagine, recreate and restore faith in how a business can and should operate.
One Amazing Experience with Bronwen Stephens-Harding, Founder of Rogue Opera
I am delighted to be joined by Bronwen Stephens-Harding, Founder of Rogue Opera. Rogue Opera’s premise is to bring Opera to the masses. Bronwen declared her ambition to be an opera singer at the age of 5. While her career has taken her from teaching English in Japan, to working in the hospitality industry, and in marketing, her passion to make a career out of Opera has never diminished.
Having come from her Australia, via Japan & Thailand, Bronwen has made London her home since 2001. While working in marketing she gained her licence to busk on the London Underground and from the hardened commuter’s positive reaction to her singing it encouraged her to make a business from her love of Opera and to carry on taking opera to a new audience.
While discussing her career and business development Bronwen talks us through her Fantastical Summer Party in the Walled Garden of Wormsley Estate. The party provides a wonderful twist on a traditional English Garden Party adding an immersive experience with theatrical aspects of Narnia and the Hobbit.
Guests are treated to Fizz and Gin Cocktails and dinner is a Fig & Goats Cheese salad, followed Salmon escalope with ginger beans, and dessert being assorted chocolates served by actors and singers around the garden.
Guests would be treated to roaming promenade of entertainers: acrobats & magicians and musicians.
The first dance track is You’ve got the love sung by Candy Station and Sir David Attenborough will be attending to
Eco-friendly fireworks will mark the end of a wonderful evening and guests will be given wildflower seeds as a parting gift.
Rogue Opera provides shows to both the public and corporate market and Bronwen talks about one of her highlights: getting 700 corporate delegates, with no singing experience, to perform the humming chorus from Madame Butterfly.
Bronwen discusses the importance of checklists and having a clear & defined focus and forward plan for your business.
She also chats through the importance of pivoting to an on-line performance subscription model during the pandemic to stay relevant and engaged in the market and provide her freelancers income opportunities.
With future growth planned into Singapore and the Middle East and her absolute passion to take Opera to new horizons it is a truly inspiring conversation for listeners.
One Amazing Experience with Jay Burgesson-Carter, Managing Director of Food Show
I am delighted to be joined by Jay Burgesson-Carter, Managing Director of Food Show. Food Show are a high end London caterer that have been operating for 34 years and are now have the in-house contract for events at Chiswick House.
Jay takes us through his fabulous party for 100 friends and family at the Tower of London. Set in the White Tower the party has a beautiful opulent feel with velvet furniture and lush floral arrangements. The event will be black tie and as glamorous as possible reflecting the celebratory feel to the occasion
The guests are greeted with Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne and, amongst others, The Food Show’s very special Steak and Frites canape. Dinner is a real sumptuous affair including Food Show’s Head to Toe chicken and sticky toffee pudding with coconut sorbet.
Jay’s family originates from West Africa and he has Nelson Mandela along to make a speech and most definitely wow his guests. To give a balancing lightness, and a bit of fun, Jay has a great drag act, Le Gateaux Chocolat,.
Prince and Tina Turner tracks lead the guests to the dance floor and, as guests depart, fireworks light up the Tower of London. Jay’s parting gift is a book of conversations reflecting his passion and skill at making people feel at ease and part of the occasion.
He talks us through the importance of always treating the client as King and equally the budget as Queen. He discusses the importance of never taking anything for granted and ensuring there is enough diversity in your offering to provide consistent revenue and growth opportunities.
Jay talks us through his career development from event co-ordinator up to Managing Director via three different caterers in London. he gives a great insight on how to build a career in the events industry treating every challenge as an opportunity and being willing to learn and master every aspect of running a catering business.
It was an absolute pleasure to interview Jay and he gives listeners wonderful party ideas and an insight into the successful running of a catering business during the good and bad times.
One Amazing Experience with Daniel Gill, Dine Group
I am delighted to be joined today by Daniel Gill, Founder of the Dine Group. Dine Group incorporates Dine, Dine Delivered and Rise Hall and has been operating for 23 years. Dine were winners of The Cateys in 2018, and CHS awards in 2019 reflecting their commitment to Making Every Event Special.
Daniel talks us through the amazing development of the group including the foresight to start Dine Delivered two years before the pandemic and the purchase of the 97 room stately home, Rise Hall.
While discussing the trials, learnings and successes of his career Dan talks us through the amazing party he would put on for 60 close friends and family. The party will be held in the Mirror Gallery at Versailles Palace, France.
The party will be in keeping to its surroundings with a Crystal and Candleabra theme and regency touches.
The dinner reflects Daniel’s love of fine food and drink with canapes including Pan Fried Scallops, Foie Gras and Shaved Radish with a julienne of vegetables. A Starter of Salt Cod Balls, a main course of Fillet of Beef served on a shin of beef and dessert a Grand Marnier Souffle. All much better explained by Daniel himself.
Dan was brought up in hospitality with his parents running a Michelin starred restaurant in Leeds, Yorkshire. His parents have continued to be an inspiration to him with their exceptional work ethic and passion for food & service.
Dan’s schooling in events included working under Pru Leith at Leith’s Events & Parties and then with Glynn Woodin at Mustard Catering in London.
He started his own business back in Yorkshire driving around Leeds delivering sandwiches and built his business up brick by brick: He admits to being a control freak when it comes to the development of his business.
Daniel talks us through the importance of being clear about your product, doing your homework, and believing you will get your break. He talks through this attention to detail including doing dress rehearsals for Dine Delivered so they are happy that clients will be able to successfully serve up a visual treat.
He also touches on the importance of learning from your clients, be these private or corporate, and reminisces on meeting Nelson Mandela and how his ability to make the service team feel part of the occasion had such an impact.
Having bought Rise Hall with his wife in 2019 from TV Celebrity Property Developer, Sarah Beaney, he talks through the importance of being able to look at venue through the eyes of a client, and the trials and tribulations of managing a historic building as an events venue.
Daniel also covers business through the pandemic and how keep your team intact as much as you can and being honest about what you know and simply can’t know are key to bouncing forward.
Daniel’s party finishes with violinists standing on the dining tables playing modern covers, Deacon Blue playing live and Pete Tong djing ensuring a fun experience for all. Guests then depart through the lawns at the rear of the Palace, onto boats across the lake and into limousines home.
Overall Daniel gives a wonderful insight into his business success while talking us through one truly amazing experience.
One Amazing Experience with Ruth Lawton-Owen, Managing Director of The Admirable Crichton
I am delighted to be joined by Ruth , Managing Director of The Admirable Crichton. The Admirable Crichton celebrate their 40th year in 2021 as one of London’s most prestigious and innovative caterers. Ruth’s career over the last 25 years has equally seen her working at some of the best venues in London including Royal Palaces, Exclusive Private Homes, The RAC Club and National Architectural Gems.
In true Ruth style she takes us all to the Russian Tea Room in New York for an immersive and hugely fun 80’s themed party. Greeted by actors dressed as Polar Bears on Roller skates, and with the venue decked in full neon, the scene is set for the celebrations ahead.
Guests will be served 1911 Champagne, Bramble Cocktails and stunning canapes. Dinner starts by staying true its Russian home with a Smoked Salmon & Caviar Bar and, with Ruth being a pescatarian, for the main course guests are served Nobu’s Blackened Cod. This is followed by Baked Alaska and an extensive cheese trolley to graze on as the evening progresses.
Keeping it 80’s Rick Astley will be there to get guests on the dancefloor and the amazing actor, presenter and raconteur, Michael Palin, will be there for enlightening and uplifting conversation.
Ruth touches on her amazing memories from working in the events industry and the mentors who have led her through the good times and the bad as her career has progressed. Ruth takes us through her learnings, actions and hopes from her career and through the pandemic period.
She touches on how it has accelerated pivots, how it has helped to re-invigorate her love for events and the light it has thrown on the importance of creating the right work / life balance in the events industry in the long term. She is open about how she has learnt from her mistakes and how she continues to look at ideas from different industries that can be incorporated into events driving future success.
Overall it was an absolute pleasure to discuss her career and her fabulous party and I shall hold out hope for the invite envelope arriving at some point in my letter box.
One Amazing Experience with Paul Jackson, Managing Director of Portico and Searcy's.
I am delighted to be joined by Paul Jackson, Managing Director of Searcy’s and Portico. Paul’s career in the hospitality industry over the last 30 years has allowed him to work at some of the UK’s finest venues, including Cliveden House Hotel, and to be a Leader within three of the UK’s largest Hospitality Companies: Sodexo, CH & Co and WSH.
Paul talks us through his amazing party for family and friends on Woolacombe Beach, Devon. The event takes place in three conjoined Moroccan Marquees providing a dining area, dance & reception space and a cigar lounge.
Guests enjoy a sumptuous four course meal including Lobster & Mango salad, barbequed marinated beef, Strawberry Romanoff and Camembert soaked in Calvados and served on sliced apple.
From the fun of toasting marshmallows round a firepit and sandcastle building competitions to dancing to Abba and the pleasures of smoking Montecristo No. 5’s his party will be a truly fitting celebration of being able to meet again post Pandemic.
While orchestrating his party Paul talks us through his career and what has driven success for him personally, and the companies he has worked for. This includes the ability to pre-empt guest needs even before they do, the importance of creating a culture led business, not accepting second best, having exacting standards and giving clear guidance to your team of what success looks like.
Paul touches on his best memories from the industry from managing events at Buckingham Palace to hosting Thomas Cook’s 250thcelebrations with Princess Diana in attendance.
Paul also discusses his fear of procrastination and why perfection can never be truly achieved. He also addresses the challenges he and his businesses have faced during the pandemic and how he has managed his team through the crisis.
Paul’s career has been shaped by his raison d’etre of wanting to look after people and his success and fabulous party reflects his huge ability to do so. This is an incisive and inspiring podcast which should be listened to, as Paul would suggest, while enjoying a glass of Searcy’s Rose Champagne.