The heart and soul of any festival lie in its crew – that's why it's imperative to ensure all onsite crew members are properly fed. Fortunately, this is something we know a thing or two about! Setting up a festival is a complex task, with numerous moving parts and different elements, which demands extensive planning and organisation.
In May 2023, we took on the responsibility of catering for the entire crew at the Big Church Festival in Wiston, West Sussex. This non-profit Christian music festival spans three days and draws over 30,000 attendees. However, it involves many components that keep it running for a full week. In addition to the music and religious gatherings, the event features live performances, fairground rides, camping, glamping, and more, making it quite a massive operation.
From the initial setup to the breakdown, we were onsite for 18 days, serving between 50 and 1000 meals per day, and some days even more. This was a significant challenge that tested our catering expertise and ability to handle an extended period of large numbers. The key was understanding what could be prepared in our central production kitchen and transferred to the kitchen facilities on site. Once this was sorted out, we could begin planning the menu, striking a balance between hearty and healthy.
Breakfast, or so John Harvey Kellogg will have you believe, is often considered the most important meal of the day, which was especially crucial for many crew members who found it difficult to spare time for lunch. After spending the night in tents or converted shipping containers, they needed a hearty start to their day. Our breakfast options ranged from a full English breakfast, yoghurts and fresh fruits, waffles and pancakes with crispy bacon, porridge pots, and the classic Bacon Bap always with the provision of a cereal bar and tea & coffee.
For lunch, we offered a more refined selection, with cold meats and salad pots being the order of the day, especially under the May sun. The hearty and nutritious dinners featured themed nights, curries, cassoulets, Italian cuisine, BBQs, pot roasts, fish and chips, and Sunday dinners, always accompanied by a delicious, sweet treat to finish. We also catered to dietary restrictions and those with lighter palates with the same level of quality and care.
The number of crew members fluctuated throughout the event due to last-minute additions (some even the night before) and cancellations. However, we estimate that over the course of the entire event, we served approximately 12,000 meals probably more having given in to those poor soles who had “lost” their voucher. Our team was certainly put to the test during those weeks, but we're confident in saying that we rose to the challenge.
"We had an amazing experience working with Strong Flavours at our festival this summer. They were with us for over two weeks, and the food was consistently incredible. Different options were available every day, always fresh, with generous portion sizes. The presentation was of a high standard as well. We can't thank Strong Flavours enough for their professionalism, kindness, and can-do attitude in every aspect. We look forward to Strong Flavours feeding us again!" - Gemma Manvell, Production Manager