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Every month we like to meet new people and find out more about how they work, what their views are, and what we can learn from them. However, we often forget all the clever and inspirational people that we get to work with through the LVP family, and as our theme for this month has been Banqueting and Reception events, we thought it time enough to unleash the creative wisdom and ‘positive deviancy’ of Exec Chef Andrew Walker, from our mothership Compass Group. Oh, and if you want to know what Positive Deviancy is, read on …

 

We started by asking for an opinion on the world of banqueting right now, and immediately got a taste of what Andrew brings to our clients, “The word ‘banqueting’, just sounds wrong. It creates a vision of over indulgence, stuffiness, and an almost Victorian approach to dining that is repressive, while at the same time incredibly wasteful and boring. We need to change the language that reflects what our customers want right now.”

 

Hear, hear! At Lime Venue Portfolio we’ve very proud of our role as cheerleaders for better events, and if it means we need to rethink the traditional banquet, so be it! So, what does a modern banquet look like, and how do we get there? “As with all things, it starts with the brief,” continues Andrew. “A great brief means we can get into the values of a business or a brand, we can understand its heritage, its personality, and most importantly the stories that it has to tell, and wants to tell, at the event.

 

“These can be a product launch with a very specific message, celebrations, or company awards, but there will always be a brand led message. Our job is to convert that meaning into every last mouthful of food, but to then look at the complete environment around the table and in the room, and look at ways we can immerses them in the brand.”

 

“Much of it is about theatre, and making not just the menu the talking point, but also the delivery. An old banquet was all about the Debrett’s ‘how to eat a banana with a knife and fork’ mentality, now we’re doing events with Royal attendance where we squirt a Cauliflower foam into the hands of the guests as a more fun amuse-bouche; the reaction to that sort of thing is amazing, it gets people talking and laughing straight away.”

 

So, you’re constantly looking at not just what they eat but how they eat it, why? “As chefs, we know that the parts of the brain that deal in taste and smell is directly adjacent to the memory cortex. This is really important to a brand that wants to leave the guest with a lasting message and a lasting memory, it means we can take their stories and retell them through the food and the atmosphere at every point of the event.

 

“Also, because we know this, we can create menus that engender calmness, or excitement, we can bring colour on to the plate if we want to or hold back. But we can also create interesting environments, background music or ambient soundtracks to create more or less atmosphere, depending on the tone of the event and the values of the client,“ continues Andrew.

 

So, what we’re quickly finding is that the modern-day Chef is more than just a cook, but a designer, a psychologist, and a theatrical director! “It’s funny, I’m always looking for creative inspiration, not just from other chefs or people in hospitality, but from creatives in other industries. I think to offer the very best to our customers we need to be constantly creative on every aspect of the event, and to do that we need to constantly seek and collaborate with creative people.”

 

“This is where I get the phrase Positive Deviancy, an approach to change based on the premise that in any walk of life there are people whose uncommon but successful behaviours or strategies enable them to find better solutions than their peers.  It’s about daring to be different, but with a positive direction that delivers great events for customers who really care.”

 

Andrew is a really smart guy and someone we’re delighted to have at #teamlvp. He’s also right, the word banquet doesn’t even begin to describe some of the events Andrew and his team are delivering for our customers every day. It’s impossible not to be jealous of the people that got to go. Now we’re going to see if we can sneak onto an invite list or two…

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