Minute on the Clock: Richard Ball
Hannah Thompson about Calcot's involvement and why supporting the charity is so important
What's special about this compared to other Hospitality Action events?
Celebrity chefs have long been great supporters of Hospitality Action but, with some notable exceptions, it's hard to get them to be involved with this sort of event outside London. We started small, with a few local hoteliers organising a polo match, and this year we have six top chefs with a total of seven Michelin stars. It's a true collaboration of those starting out and those at the top of their game.
The event attracts chefs such as Richard Davies and Martin Burge. How does their involvement help?
It helps sell tickets and raise the profile. We expect to raise £40,000 through a mixture of ticket sales, sponsorship, auction lots and the raffle. I am sure it also helps shine a spotlight on Hospitality Action.
How significant is it that the event is in Gloucestershire?
There's a huge gastronomic heritage in Gloucestershire and we are lucky to be surrounded by some terrific suppliers. Apart from its charitable objectives, the event is a great showcase for the region.
The event also depends on students working front of house. How does that work?
Students from the City of Bath College, Gloucestershire College, City of Bristol College and Hit Training Academy all take part. It provides a rare opportunity for the students to see top chefs at work on a big function.
How does the Calcot Manor team prepare for the event?
The chefs have become more independent over the years, but we generally handle the logistics, co-ordination and set-up of the kitchen. Front of house and service is down to us (and the brilliant students). We also create the canapés and the afternoon tea. We are really proud to have initiated this event and drawn together such local talent.
What's the most challenging thing about being involved in an event such as this?
We are relying upon a lot of very busy people, all of whom are giving up their time and resources. They are all fundamental to the success or the failure of the event. However, they are all very committed professionals and they have never let us down. Mutual trust is key.
Why support Hospitality Action?
As a trustee, I have seen first-hand the huge job it does to support hospitality employees through a variety of life-changing crises. The need is greater than ever and failure to meet this would make the industry hugely irresponsible. At Calcot we have enjoyed success and we are keen to give back.
You've been in the hospitality industry for a long time. What have you learned?
The industry has to adapt to changes in expectation, style, social trends, technology and economic pressures. I've learned never to think "it's in the bag". It rarely is.
What one piece of advice would you have for young people?
Develop your creative side. Fresh thinking will set you apart.