Until Wednesday 26th January I was a Hospitality virgin – this was my first experience of the buzzing industry exhibition and I was ready to go.
After the usual rushing and flitting around London train stations, I settled on my Virgin service to Birmingham International, and equipped myself with Hospitality brochures and floor plans for the next hour or so.
It was only when I was reading up on the day’s scheduled seminars that I noticed Silvena Rowe (set to speak at the show at 2pm) sat a few seats in front of me. Either that or it was a very good look-a-like! When she did eventually get off at the same Birmingham stop and started making her way to the NEC, it at least gave me someone to follow as I didn’t have a clue where I was going!
At last I arrived at the show and was instantly hit with the hustle and bustle of interested crowds, coupled with enthusiastic industry experts manning stands in anything from glass washing machines, to cakes and pastries.
After half an hour or so of wondering around taking it all in and pinching various freebie goodies, I made my way to Robbie Bargh’s seminar on how to make the perfect venue. As a new face in this industry, it was invaluable to be able to sit and listen to such experts.
Following an insightful seminar, I had my first bout of mucking in at the press office, helping our other busy beans keep the plates spinning. Before I knew it I was ready for my next afternoon seminar, this time with my travel buddy Silvena Rowe and two other successful entrepreneurs, Shamil Thakrar and Ed Turner.
Silvena spoke about her new Eastern Mediterranean restaurant, Quince, opening in London’s five-star Mayfair Hotel. Shamil’s success has come from Covent Garden’s raved about Bombay Café, Dishoom (which I will definitely be venturing to in the near future), whilst Ed Turner is the Marketing and Commercial guru of Geronimo Inns.
The highlight for me though had to be the Salon Display. This is where dozens of exceptional novelty cakes, sugar works and sculptures made out of pure fat, were lined up for humble guests to simply stare at. An inspirational display of skill and intricate attention to detail and something I walked away wishing I could do!
All-in-all the show was a tremendous success, with a fantastic atmosphere and jam-packed with people. Just one small blip…the Uk came 13th in the Bocuse d’Or, with Denmark landing the top-spot!
And for my train ride home – Dishoom’s Shamil Tharkar sat in front of me! Never a dull journey…
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