Damian Clarkson, director of Red Snapper Events

16 March 2006
Damian Clarkson, director of Red Snapper Events

Damian Clarkson is the director of Red Snapper Events. He recently mentored the female team on BBC2's The Apprentice to victory in a challenge to cater for the Thames Festival. He told Phin Foster about the experience

Why did you agree to take part in the programme? It wasn't something that was decided instantly. We're still a young company and didn't want to damage the business in any way. But because we knew what the show was about and were sure it was a quality programme, we decided it could only do good. I'd certainly do it again.

How difficult was the task? Initially, it seemed straightforward, but the difficulty came in managing all the different elements in only two days. Promotion, buying produce, cooking, project managing - it all takes a lot of effort. Also, the team had a real lack of food experience - one of them wanted to know if there were eggs in crêpes. People had to learn on their feet.

Did that make choosing the theme and cuisine harder? At first the team wanted fish and chips as we were by the Thames. However, everything had to be costed realistically, and the logistics would have just been too great. We settled on Oriental noodles because the set-up was reasonably inexpensive, preparation was uncomplicated and people perceive noodles as being healthy. It was vital that we didn't take on more than we could handle.

What won it for your team? I don't know much about the other team, but the women displayed a strong financial grasp and asked lots of pertinent questions, as well as having the benefit of my head chef Andrew, who was a great help. They also used their flirting skills to their advantage. Anything they asked Andrew to do was done in an instant.

What's needed for success in the events industry? I think you need an eye for detail, an ability to think ahead and an organised, calm disposition. Most importantly, it has to be fun. It doesn't matter how big the event or how great the pressure. You won't perform well working in hospitality if you don't enjoy yourself.

Did your team display those attributes? Well, they all showed great initiative, a lot of energy and were extremely brassy. They were certainly a lot of fun.

Do any of the contestants have a future in catering? I'm not naming any names, but I do know that one of them is considering launching a niche food concept. As for the others, I would consider employing, or at least advising, any one of them if they were to need my help again - but I'm sure they won't.

Who would you tip to win?
It's a rather boring answer, but any one of them has the potential to go all the way.

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