My Event World - Simon Goggin

Simon Goggin, chef director of Cooks & Partners, on setting up on his own and his distaste for tripe.

My Event World - Simon Goggin
My Event World - Simon Goggin

I got into the event industry because I was working as a pastry chef for a restaurant and was offered a job at an event company. When the company was sold I started up on my own with Cooks & Partners, an event catering company, which has now diversified into contract and public concession catering.

I have worked here since I set up Cooks & Partners in 1997.

I was attracted to this particular role because I wanted to do something on my own and work with clients who have the same food and social ethos as the company.

Not many people know that we also run a café, restaurant and in-house contracts, as well as the event side of things.

My worst experience at an event was when I was working as part of a team of chefs cooking for a large dinner for 400 people in the City. The chef cooking the main course, beef Wellington, didn't notice the ovens had gone out, so when I came to take it out it was still raw and delayed the dinner by 40 minutes.

If there's one thing I've learnt it's always have a back-up plan when doing outside catering for events.

The best event I've been involved in was a retirement party for a couple who decided to retire on their 45th birthdays, and were leaving to go and live down under. They wanted to throw a party for their family and friends to remember them by. There was no limit on the budget and they wanted the party to be visually awesome and lots of fun. We came up with a circus theme: as guests arrived they were greeted with street performers and a full-size classic fun fair. They were then led into a big top where they feasted from food stalls serving dishes from around the world, with chefs cooking to order. After dinner, entertainment consisted of a huge band and the fun fair.

If I could do it all over again I would get the Cooks & Partners name in the front of every event booker's mind from the start.

The one thing I can't stand is tripe.

Outside of work I spend my time with family and friends, walking and eating out.

If money were no object I would grow the company into other areas of the catering world.

The one event I will never miss is RSVP and Square Meal shows.

The recession has meant that we have become even more creative when designing events to tight budgets in order to still give them the wow factor. Also, making my own company cost-efficient and more focussd on the business side.

The next 12 months will be interesting: some companies will grow and some will go, but generally clients will come back and book events.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be no one, I am happy where I am.

If I ruled the event industry I would make it fairer and more of a level playing field for all.


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