Minute on the clock: Zoe Mann

31 July 2015 by
Minute on the clock: Zoe Mann

As food and beverage manager at the Goodwood Estate, Zoe Mann co-ordinates hospitality for thousands of guests at events such as the imminent horse racing extravaganza the Qatar Goodwood festival, set for 28 July to 1 August. She speaks to Hannah Thompson about her nine-year career at the estate, local sourcing, tiered hospitality, and working with guest chef Bryn Williams

What is your main aim when catering for the festival?
To ensure that every guest leaves feeling as though they have been treated as an individual, and that all food consumed at the event, whether a burger or full-blown hospitality, is as good as it gets.

His approach to ingredients, quality and taste is unsurpassed. The passion he demonstrates, such as through his cooking at Odette's or in touring our organic farm, shines through, which is exactly why we chose him.

What do you need to consider when catering for a racecourse, compared to other venues? Timings are one of the most important aspects. Our guests are primarily here to watch racing, so we need to ensure all food is served before or between races and that any queue times are minimal so guests are left to enjoy as much of the day as possible.

What makes Qatar Goodwood unique in terms of the food and drink offer?
Not many racecourses can claim beef, lamb, pork, cheese, cream and beer sourced from their own farm. We also look very close to home for other pairings and our offer changes daily. Our chefs spend a large amount of time in the winter looking for the best local and independent products. This year our customers can tuck into caviar and sturgeon or pulled pork with popcorn crackling.

How do you co-ordinate the drinks requirements with the food?
Racing attracts a very social crowd; Champagne rules the day, with Pimm's a close second. This is one area in which little changes!

What's the most challenging thing about catering for an event?
The number of offerings across the week is massive. The number of choices of menus, packages, public food and hospitality offers can sometimes be a little overwhelming, but you get used to it.

And the most satisfying? It sounds corny, but seeing everyone having a brilliant time and knowing the event is a huge success is the most satisfying part.

You operate a tiered system across enclosures and boxes. How do they differ?
We always look to deliver a "Goodwood twist" at every level. For the top level, it might be arranging for guests to arrive by helicopter; at the other end of the scale we might offer a bottle of Champagne or afternoon tea for a guest's celebration, just because we can.

You've been with the Goodwood estate for nine years, originally as a chef. What is the most important thing you've learned?
Never accept average and never expect straightforward. Keeping in line with food trends,customer demographics and social influence means you must keep an open mind.

What would you most like to achieve in future years?
Next year we have plans to develop specific areas of the catering, which will ensure that the splendour on the field is matched by the offering in the enclosures. Career-wise, anything can happen!

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