And so the banquet has come and gone. A flurry of activity followed by a burst of food and drink, leaving us all feeling fragile and happy, and keen to do it again.
As you know, I was not a diner, but a worker bee. And as a result of this, and the fact that my lovely digital SLR camera was stolen recently, I have no photos, but we did have a volunteer blogger photograper on the night (Mark of Food by Mark) and so I can share some of his.
The lead up to the banquet was frenzied, but supported by the wonderful Sig of Scandilicious managing the kitchen (read her fantastic build up post here) and a crack team of enthusiasts managing the other aspects – Kavey on ticketing, Susie & Ailbhe on the Goodie Bags, Denise on the wines, Mathilde on the auction and Linda on the organisational aspects behind delivery and ingredients – we could only succeed. Not to undermine the work anyone did on the day, it was a superb team effort, but these guys were keeping this going and driving it in the weeks leading up to the event. More on everyone else in my next post about the night itself.
I had always been confident that we could do this. I knew that it would be very hard work and at times frantic, but with a good team that were ready to pitch in, I didn’t see how we could fail. Most of us are passionate cooks, but cooking for large numbers is a whole different matter, so we needed to be organised. I don’t want anyone in the trade to think I am being cocky, I’ve worked in kitchens and front of house while in University, I know it’s not easy, but, still… I knew we could do it.
Shortly after we had our first meeting, it was clear that large meetings were going to make this impossible to deliver. If we had more time, we could have done it in this more sociable way, but we didn’t. So I formed a team that would manage all the aspects involved and we met when we could and liaised online.
I don’t really talk about personal stuff here, it’s about the food but sometimes life intervenes in unexpected ways. Less than a week after that first meeting, I got a call from my mother, my Grandmother had taken ill suddenly and I knew I had to go home. The trouble was, I was in Lisbon and it was looking increasingly like I was going to miss my flight. I loved Portugal, particularly the Portugese people, but their chronoptimism is worse than mine, and I was delivered to the station, with what looked like ample time to spare, but which quickly transpired as none. The staff at the airport were unphased when I arrived frazzled at the desk. “Relax! You have loads of time.” I had 3 minutes. Maybe I should move there!
So, back to London and then to Ireland. Things were frantic and I was trying to do too much ending in the theft of my lovely digital SLR camera after I left it behind. Bye bye camera, and bye bye lots of pictures of the Douro. Not a good week.
Home I went, battling Aer Arann who were confused about my flight details, and First Capital Connect, who didn’t want to run any trains ending in an expensive taxi journey to Luton. Home for a few days and back again. Lots to do: the market, real work and then the banquet.
Finally the day of the Blaggers’ Banquet arrived. I was up and ready to go when I got a call. Things were bad at home and my Grandmother had received the last rites (a Catholic tradition for the dying). I really wasn’t sure what to do, I felt very upset and wanted to be at home, but getting home is not that easy, especially at short notice. My sister told me to wait by the phone and they would call me with an update.
With a heavy heart, knowing what was going on at home, I carried on and went to Hawksmoor. I knew that I should be at home but I couldn’t get home fast enough for it to make a difference, so I comforted myself with the fact that the banquet had only positive outcomes, raising money for a fantastic charity. The next update, very soon after, sadly, was a very sad one, she had passed away.
So, I am just back from a sad trip to Ireland for her funeral and I am feeling very tired. I’ll be back soon, when I have a little more energy, and I’ll regale you with banquet tales and behind the scenes gossip.
For now you can read all about it on the following blogs/sites:
All photography by Mark N – www.foodbymark.com