My Event World - Alice Hodge and Ellen Parr

Alice Hodge and Ellen Parr are the brains behind pop-up dining company The Art of Dining, which counts Burger & Lobster, Laurent-Perrier and Nike among its clients.

Alice Hodge and Ellen Parr create pop-up dining experiences for events
Alice Hodge and Ellen Parr create pop-up dining experiences for events

The pair spoke to Event about early morning visits to an M&S skip, their favourite pop-up creations, and the things that keep their minds ticking at 4am. 

We got into the event industry because... We were two friends who started with a small pop-up as a hobby after work. It grew and grew, and now we find ourselves at the heart of the event industry. We feel like the industry got us...we didn’t go out to find it.

We have worked here since we started our first pop-up five years ago. 

We were attracted to this particular role because we thrive on the freedom and creativity that the pop-up world can provide. 

Not many people know that when we were students, we used to get food out of an M&S skip at the end of a night out and make massive feasts for our mates. One particular time Alice filled the room with daffodils and Ellen made a huge tagine. 

The best event we’ve been involved in was... Every pop-up is so different, so its really hard to say which is our best. Travelling the world with 'Say Cheese' was an amazing experience, and when no-one wanted to leave our Abigail’s Party pop-up. Although slightly annoying, this was also an amazing compliment.

If we could do it all over again we would do it all the same! We learn so much with every event - if it was easy we would never learn anything and therefore never grow as a business or as people.

The one thing we can’t stand is waking up at 4am thinking about where a staple gun is or if we turned the oven off, or where we should move the table to make more space... all the 4am questions that keep you awake when you have a million things going on.

Outside of work we spend our time eating and drinking in new and exciting pop-up bars and restaurants, going to the theatre, gardening and travelling.  

If money were no object we would do less heavy lifting.

If we could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be... Ellen would switch with Ferran Adria’s development chef so she could learn the playful and amazing techniques he uses, and Alice would switch with the Punch Drunk designers to look into story telling through set design.

If we ruled the event industry we would encourage people and companies to take more risks, and to trust in creatives to deliver even more inspiring and daring events.

The pair is currently busy working on the launch of their latest experience - an 80s themed pop-up - which is set to commence on 23 March. 

More: My Event World - Nick Kenton

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