a review of my Suffolk Show 2016
Never before had I been so in the spotlight by my peers, friends and family. There were a lot of people I did not want to let down. Especially the team I had working with me on the day. I pride myself on working only with the best ingredients and this goes for people too. I had Claire working on the front of house with my brother Adi. Claire has a wealth of experience from around the globe and is a logistics goddess. Adi is a food service manager with an incredible CV. Specialising in high volume units but also a charmer. If he can’t pull in customers, then no one can. Finally, Stuart. Stuart and I have worked together on and off for the last 12 years. We work so well together and he is without doubt the best chef I know.
I did not want to let these guys down with my poor planning or by getting my product wrong! I was feeling the pressure in the weeks running up to the show. My bank account was spiralling downwards with every trip to the wholesalers for bin bags, spices, rice, cutlery, gas bottles, charcoal…. the list goes on!
I’m not going to give a blow by blow account of the two days. That would be boring and pointless. What I will do is share my observations.
Firstly, I was set up in the Adnams Beach Eats area. This area had a bar, beach huts and a sandy area. What it didn’t have was sunshine. Both days were cold, windy and we had a torrential downpour on day one which nearly collapsed our gazebo. The catering outlets were set to the edge of this plot and the Knife of Brian Barbecue was in the corner. At first we thought this was perfect but as the crowds arrived and started queuing for the Pizza and hot dog/burger stands which were either side of us, we were soon blocked in and invisible to any newer arrivals.
I soon realised that my signage was too low. A schoolboy error. I’d focussed so much on getting my food right that I had not spent enough time on making my unit more visible. I suppose I was relying on my food to be the attraction.
A few friends have since said to me that they struggled to find the area I was in. I think there was a bit of confusion between Adnams areas and the numerous other food sites.
We were busy between 11.30am and 2pm on both days. The Thursday more so. We took around 20% more cash on day two due to the slightly better weather I think.
As I was saying, we were sandwiched between a Pizza and a hot dog stand. These both had consistent queues. In our tent we were discussing what to do, how could we convince people that our food was better! People were being driven by what their children wanted. People are still obsessed with bread. Even though I was offering free range, high quality meat. People would still rather eat a pink “mystery meat” hot dog.
I won’t rant too much about my food values but I realise that this type of event may not be for me. If I can find the right sort of bread that I’d be happy to serve with my meats, then maybe I’ll try it next year. I know for a fact that I could turn up next year with cheaper pork and cheap bread, sell 1000 rolls at £6 a pop and skip away to the bank. Is it wrong that I don’t want that? Not with my name on it anyway.
Some of you may call me a fool, but I know what I want Knife Of Brian to be. I just ask you to respect that.
All in all, I did enjoy the experience and I learned so much. I hope I didn’t let anyone down. I hope that maybe I’ve inspired someone else to have a go at something they’ve wanted to try.
My wife said to me “Don’t change your product to suit the event, find the event that suits your food” and that has resonated with me. I know my food is good and I’m not keen to shove it in some bread to make a fast buck! I will be looking at food festivals but I am also going to be focussing on the other parts of my business. The cookery workshops and the wedding/party packages.
Thanks for reading my waffle. Have a super week!