Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meet the People - 44 [Showtime - 10 ]

Another in the Series Meet the People – Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting Things – Paul Goodwin is General Manager of Catering and Facilities at Christchurch’s Addington Events Centre and from today on, he’ll be working crazy hours in the lead-up to the New Zealand Trotting Cup on Tuesday, November 10th. NZ Cup Day is the pinnacle of harness racing in New Zealand and it attracts around 25,000 people, all of whom require food and drink. It’s Paul’s job to oversee the large team making that happen. Luckily Paul trained as a chef and he’s spent over thirty years in hotel and hospitality management. Combine that with the fact that this is his 11th Cup event and you get the feeling everything is under control.
The fashion marquee is already erected in the car park for instance and Paul has a firm idea of just what’s required to feed the crowds. “We start preparing for the November event in February,” says Paul. “It’s important to make sure we have the marquees booked, plus all the extra catering equipment that we’ll require. The corporate menus have to be organised and by the time we hit August, everything is ramped up and we’re looking at how many staff we’ll require on the day, the security numbers (140 this year), health and safety issues – all the basic groundwork that needs to be done to meet our obligations…. all this, while we still cater to the many other public events that happen at the Events Centre. From today on it’s total madness.” On top of getting ready for the Cup on the 10th, Paul is also overseeing preparations for two other horse racing meetings, two greyhound race meetings and up to fifteen other functions.”
Paul in front of the two huge containers that will hold extra food outside the kitchens on Cup Day Up to six large marquees are raised for the Cup Day and in addition to that, there are twelve main function rooms, seven corporate suites, 25 bars, 12-14 food outlets within the buildings and another eight outside. The centre’s kitchens will be cooking over 2 tonne of hot chips and over 2,000 pies. Over 80 kilograms of whitebait will be consumed along with 30 large salmon, 40 legs of lamb, 100 kilograms of crayfish and over 5,000 chocolate-dipped strawberries. Corporate menus will include everything from chargrilled king prawns and Moroccan spiced chicken to hot smoked salmon fillets and prime roast sirloin; and the public will be able to enjoy everything from a $2 hotdog to a $50 seafood buffet. Food preparation will start on the Saturday before Cup Day with 25 kitchen staff working 12 hour days. Then on Cup Day, 55 chefs will be on duty to keep the food rolling out. Paul may have been doing this for eleven years but he says it doesn’t get any easier. “You do understand the process better though and I’m not as daunted by the enormity of the task as I used to be. But you’ve always got to be one step ahead and I’m lucky to have a terrific core of staff working with me,” he says. “You do get the odd problem but we aim to cover every contingency. By the time we get to the end of the day – and that’s usually a 17-hour day for the management team – there’s always relief in knowing we have another one under the belt.” “And even though we’re surrounded by all this food, I hardly eat anything on Cup Day. I normally only have a sandwich at around 8pm. We run on adrenalin for much of the day.” And of course it doesn’t end there – just three days later, Paul and his team are doing the same thing all over again for the smaller Show Day race meeting on Friday, November 13th – running on adrenalin and keeping the crowds ‘fed and watered.’ I can’t wait to experience it all for myself. www.addington.co.nz http://www.nzcupandshow.co.nz/

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