Events for Hospitality Action don’t need to be huge…it’s about spreading the word, by Stuart Mathieson

L-R, Mick Smith, Ben Prior, Jude Kereama and Stuart Mathieson

Cornwall may have once been considered a culinary backwater but today that’s far from the truth. Luminaries such as Nathan Outlaw, Paul Ainsworth and Chris Eden lead the Michelin brigade, while stars of the small screen such as Jude Kereama, Tom Brown and Rick Stein along with well recognised names such as Ben Tunnicliffe, Guy Owen, Ben Prior and Andy Appleton, amongst many others, have transformed the region. Not to mention Front of House specialists such as Acorn winner Rachel Henley and Lyndsey Marshall and of course, the county boasts Fifteen Cornwall, the inspiration of Jamie Oliver.

What is so laudable is that in the social media age, chefs such as these are no longer competitors jealously guarding their recipes and techniques, they actively share their skills and vision with each other in the knowledge that sharing resources and supporting each other is good for everyone and makes Cornwall the culinary destination that it is.

There are very few industry professionals, management, kitchen and FoH who don’t know about Hospitality Action (HA) in the Duchy and we are so fortunate in that putting together an event for the charity is not so much of a case of cajoling someone to run an event, but more a case of dealing with the waiting list!

L-R, Mick Smith, Ben Prior & Jude Kereama

Our recent “end of season BBQ” was an example of this. Mick Smith, Executive Chef of the Portminster Beach Café, approached me early last year, having listened to Penny Moore, the previous CEO of HA, talking on Radio 4 about the charity and the support it gives hospitality staff who have fallen on hard times. He was inspired to do something to raise funds, but needed a couple of other chefs for support. Two phone calls yielded an immediate and positive response from serial HA supporter Jude Kereama from Kota Restaurant at Porthleven and a new recruit who had already flagged up his readiness to do something, Ben Prior from Ben’s Cornish kitchen in Marazion, and the BBQ concept was born.

Food, drink and staffing were next on the agenda and, again, it was a question of a few calls to avid HA supporters who always react favourably to requests by the charity. Sharps Brewery and Total Produce Cornwall came on board without discussion, as did Udale, Celtic Fish & Game and Matthew Stevens, the seafood and fish specialist. Newcomers, to supporting HA in Cornwall, Enotria and LWC, rounded off the list of sponsors. As for staffing, talk to your nearest Catering College. Students need work experience as part of their curriculum and the opportunity to work with superstars of the catering industry and satisfy a section of their studies is heaven sent for both students and their lecturers. Thank you Truro and Penwith College who stepped forward to help.

Promotion is down to you but the Hospitality Action office provides a service, second to none in terms of advice, copy and promotion. Give them the details and they are astonishingly supportive and hugely efficient.

Hospitality Action provides a vital service to our industry and it is up to us to lend our support. The more we can do to raise awareness of the charity the better. Helping HA is also a great way to motivate staff and engage customers. If you’d like to host your own event, wherever you are in the UK, don’t hesitate to give the HA fundraising team a call: 020 3004 5504 and see where your idea may take you!