Feeding the 5,000 – The Burberry S/S 21 Catwalk show – Summers most anticipated event.
It is a balmy 23c in Slough and even the staunchest of fashion dissenters cannot ignore the palpable buzz running through the Black Park Country Park. One of the only remaining events in a year of mass cancellations, the Burberry S/S 21 catwalk show has been officially greenlit – and boy are we happy to be here.
Live streamed to millions of people around the world, this is an operation that is 10 days in the assembling and disassembling. With the location suddenly changed two weeks before, the logistical planning required to gather the sheer number of people required, safely, in the middle of a pandemic, is colossal.
Security, electricians, runners, groundsmen, models, you name it, they are going about their business in a fairly remote stretch of woodland away from prying public eyes and kitchen facilities. Luckily, they are all in need of feeding, and we are more than happy to oblige.
Catering for all 10 days of the event requires, above all else, calm and resourcefulness. There is a consistency needed, not just in the high quality of food produced, but in keeping that superb standard of service fresh, staff motivated and ready to face any new challenges ahead. Numbers change overnight with a working dinner for 20 crew members quickly evolving into a working dinner for 150. Flexibility to adapt to our clients’ needs is essential, particularly on an event such as this, and with a quick call to our butcher and a favour called in with one of our excellent event managers, we are back on track for the day ahead.
By the day of the shoot, numbers have swollen to a (masked and socially distanced) 400. With meals that must satisfy both riggers and the darlings of the fashion world alike, whilst adhering to strict COVID sanitation guidelines, we follow three simple principles to ensure everything goes off without a hitch:
Nutritious, hearty food that sates and fuels a range of different tastes and dietaries. Prepared at our base in Sussex and transported in fresh each day, we can guarantee a meticulous overseeing of each dish from menus that are designed to wow, both aesthetically and in taste, whether served in a banquet or, as the situation demands, in a brown paper bag. Our sacred field kitchen is partitioned into sections with staff working in bubbles and wearing masks. We have a stringent one-way system in place, and meals are served individually in paper bags, ticking both the no cross-contamination and minimal handling strategies, whilst still adhering to our environmental policies. We use biodegradable cutlery across site, with full recycling of all materials employed as a bare minimum.
Cool and calm heads, problem-solving efficiently to take the pressure out of pressured timelines. As for most events, this means excellent staffing. For the Burberry event, this is even more pressing as our staff allocation is reduced due to COVID restrictions. We need quick, experienced thinkers with impeccable client-facing skills to keep things running smoothly. Our team of staff are with us for all ten days, are courteous, and polite, bringing humour and kindness to helping crew navigate the ‘new normal’ of event catering, whilst ensuring they are welcomed and safe. With additional VIP guests attending certain days, and riders adapting to suit the needs of the crew on-site, handling client’s evolving essentials requires forethought and we work hard to ensure that we have provided solutions before the need for them has arisen. This did involve a, much appreciated, last-minute birthday cake and a few late-night supermarket trips in search of diet Fanta and ever-elusive Japanese wheat crackers
Successful crew catering is all about options: It is nigh on impossible for a client to correctly guess the myriad of dietary tastes and needs of a crew and cast that changes every day. For us, this means having all the snacking bases covered. Vegan, gluten-free, mayo-free, an abundance of snack bars, mars bars, cans of coke and enough crisps to keep Tyrell’s in business; it isn’t about providing rigidly bespoke meals, it’s about facilitating a moment of calm amongst the organised chaos.
We are well versed in this type of event delivery, understanding what tools are needed to deliver our trademark high level of service. Our planning and logistics for the Burberry event were organised quickly and efficiently, certainly longer than the 36 hours we had to prepare and deliver a similar scale event last year in Cambridge! This reassures us that, with the right planning and attitude, the world of live events, the world that we love and know, can return safely. Because, whether you’re an electrician or a slightly frantic PA, an operation as large as the Burberry S/S 21 Catwalk show, only runs as smoothly as all of its individually well-fed parts.