Meet the Christmas Party Team: Front of House Catering
There is now less than one month to go until the Cooper Associates County Ground hosts its first Christmas Party Night of the year.
With this in mind we thought we would introduce you to the people who will be making sure that you enjoy a perfect party experience.
Over the course of eight nights Somerset County Cricket Club’s Catering Department will be hosting around 4000 party-goers across three separate venues within the ground.
Let’s meet the people on the front line!
We recently caught up with Sarah Dawson, Stephen Moorcroft and Lucy Hawkins from the Club’s Front of House Catering Team to get their views on the festive season.
How long have you been working at our Christmas Party Nights?
Sarah: “This is my third year of Christmas Party Nights here and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Stephen: “This will be my eighth Christmas party season. I can’t believe how quickly it has come around again. To think that it’s only a few weeks away again is crazy.”
Lucy: “Last year was my first year of working here. It was so much fun. There was a great buzz around the place and it was a really nice introduction to the Club for me. It was much busier than I expected and there are so many people involved. The nights go so quickly and service is so smooth that the night is almost over before you realise it!”
What will your role be on the night?
Sarah: “I’ll be running things in the 1875 Club again this year and on the nights that we only have events in the Colin Atkinson Pavilion I’ll be over there as well. I’ll have a team of about half a dozen working with me in the 1875 Club. When I’m working in the Colin Atkinson Pavilion I’ll be a station Leader. The roles are pretty similar because the number of guests on my station will be about the same as the number of people we cater for in the 1875 Club.
Lucy: “I’m often leading a team on the night. My role is to help make sure that the night runs smoothly. I’ll be making sure that my team is doing everything that they need to be so that service goes smoothly. We need to be aware of any dietary requirements on our tables and making sure that all our customers have everything that they need and are looked after properly.”
Guests arrive at 7pm so what time do you arrive?
Sarah: “I come in for 5pm and make sure that everything is set up and running smoothly. It’s vital to make sure that everything is in place and ready to go. The staff briefing will start at about 6pm and during that I’ll run through everything that is happening and make sure that the staff are aware of any special dietary requirements and things like that.
“People will start arriving from about 7pm and have a drink on arrival before sitting down to dinner at about 7:30. That’s when we start rolling out the starters. This will obviously be followed by the main course and dessert. After that we will bring out the coffees and cheese table and the disco will then get underway at about 9:30. Then we help the bar staff keep up with the demand for drinks and collect glasses until the end of the night. During that time other staff will also be prepping for the next night’s event.”
Lucy: “We get in for 6pm and have our briefing so that we know the layout of the room for the evening, find out if we have any dietary requirements and make sure that everything is in place for when people arrive. It’s important that we all know what we need to be doing beforehand. If you know exactly what you need to be doing, you can be prepared and take care of everything.”
How good is the team that you work with?
Stephen: “It’s vital that we have a good team. We want everyone who comes here to have the best possible experience. Therefore it’s crucial that everyone knows exactly what they need to be doing. Obviously it’s not just us though. The chefs do a fantastic job with the food and although they’re doing around 400 meals each night, the last plate out of the kitchen will be of the same high standard as the first plate that went out. Mark Beckhurst and his Bar Team do a great job too.”
Sarah: “It’s crucial that your staff are happy and we couldn’t pull off so many good nights without such a great team. You have to be able to trust your team. You can’t be telling them what to do every five minutes and we are really lucky to have such a motivated and driven team.”
Lucy: “We’ve got a great team and I know that if I ask someone to do something it will get done well.”
What people probably don’t realise is that when all the guests go home, your night is just starting.
Sarah: “That’s right. Once everyone has left, we then start clearing down and getting the room ready for the following night. That could be for the next Christmas Party Night or for a conference the following day for example. By the time we’ve done that it’s usually about 2:30am.”
Lucy: “It can get pretty tiring but we all keep each other going. There’s a great spirit in the team and we all get on really well which is great, otherwise it could be a long night!”
Stephen: “There’s always a really good atmosphere at about 1:30am when all the staff are coming together and turning the rooms around for the following days event. There’s a great team spirit and everyone works together really well. I’d say that it’s our busiest time because it’s not just the Christmas Parties at this time of year. There’s also conferences, events and our Sunday Carvery, so we usually have something on every single day.”
What’s the best part of working at SCCC’s Christmas Party Nights?
Sarah: “It’s an exciting time of year for the whole team. The best bit about the Christmas parties is that you can have a really good laugh with everyone and help all the guests get in to the Christmas spirit. Everyone has such a good time. It feels really good to know that you’ve played a part in so many people having such a great time. It’s also lovely when we all come together and decorate the venues in the days before the first party. That’s a really enjoyable part of the year.”
Stephen: “We all enjoy making sure that everyone walks away from here happy at the end of the night.”
Lucy: “The best part is that so many people are really happy. Everyone is really wrapped up in the Christmas spirt and they just want to dance and have a great time. It’s great to see so many people leaving with smiles on their faces. That is really nice to see. We want everyone to leave here at the end of the night wanting to come back again next year.”
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