The Cambridge Folk Festival might be a strange topic for this blog, but it is a function I have been working for the past sixteen years! Most people attend events such as this to watch great bands performing live. They get to enjoy the atmosphere and attempt to dance between the rain drops. I however am there to work! Obviously many people are there to work; security, general helping staff, vendors, bar staff, stage hands, electricians, gas engineers, not to mention the performers, but as it is often said an army marches on its stomach. That is where I come in……
I meet up with a select team of people each year under Bob the chef as part of the ‘Quintessential Cuisine’ team tasked with providing food for the “Staff and Artists”. This merry band of 5 produce breakfast, lunch and evening meals for 2000 people over a four day period. I am part of this team, but I also specifically look after the artists and their riders.
A contract rider includes specifications on stage design, sound systems, lighting rigs, as well as an artist’s wish list-from transportation and billing to dressing room accommodations and meals. At some festivals, a promoter will refuse a demand (crossing out the request on the document), but at Cambridge the stars usually get what they want, whether it’s new black cotton soaks, or a box full of fruit so they can prepare their own smoothies.
So I spend considerable amount of time preparing special meals for some artists and vast numbers of sandwiches and deli platers for others. What this does mean is that when the rest of the catering team are not working I am in the kitchen trying to get on top of things so that when the main rush hits, I can help out with the staff meals and coordinating service times.
This break from the routine of health/clinical psychology and research analysis is wonderful. As a qualified chef, preparing food is a careful balance of colours, flavours, textures and presentation not to mention getting it on the table in time (no mean feat when you’re basically working on a camping gas stove). I also experience a whole different side of humanity.
It essence it keeps me fresh and if you’re not going away on holiday then a change is as good as a rest!