Countdown to 30: An interview with our charismatic caterer, Liam Keating
As we get towards the middle of the year, our 30th birthday is fast approaching. We continue our countdown with an insight into the life of catering team manager, Liam Keating. With over a decade of experience here at the venue, Liam has become somewhat of a personality at the BDC and is well loved by clients and staff alike. We find out what it’s been like to make millions of meals in his time here…
What is it like to work at the BDC?
“Coming into the venue every day is totally different. The team at the BDC do a great job at ensuring the event calendar is always busy so whether is guaranteeing 1,000 delegates get a hot lunch, or providing an intimate drinks reception for 100 people post conference, the weeks must be coordinated to the highest degree.
Thankfully I have one of the best teams in the country supporting me; from Danny and the guys in the kitchen to the staff that operate the on-site restaurant right through to Jean, Dinah and my operations team - their attention to detail and consistency is outstanding. The BDC is different from every other event space out there though. You have permanent tenants whose offices are located here so even on the rare days when there aren’t events running, there’s always a good atmosphere in the place.”
You provide the only catering option for the BDC, how do you ensure that you cater for everyone?
“With the tenants being here all week we have to keep the menu’s fresh but it also provides a great platform to test out new creations. I love the instant feedback and believe me when I say; it’s some of the most honest feedback you can ask for. Our restaurant team arrive early every day to get breakfast ready from 8am and continue service until the end of the day, so whether exhibitors arrive and need to grab a quick brunch or there are meetings that need a working lunch we are here for them.
On the events it’s always about addressing the needs of the clients individually. We’re lucky enough to have some of the most creative event minds holding their events with us so it allows me to roll out some wonderful options. I’ve put together a Mexican themed drinks reception with bespoke tequila cocktails (complete with a mariachi band), concocted fresh aeroplane meals on their individual trays for an airline industry conference, right through to custom-made stand catering. If you can dream it – we can make it happen.”
What’s the best event you’ve catered for?
“I’d have to agree with Georgina on her favourite – the Czech House. Over the three week tenancy we had upwards of 74,000 visitors. There was VIP catering, an extra restaurant serving Czech food and not to mention the bar in the main hall. My team served over 122,000 pints of Czech beer and 6,200 portions of strudel throughout the Olympic Games, a truly awesome event to coordinate.
I can’t overlook the returning events we have here though. There are some of the longest standing events you can imagine – the London Art Fair, Country Living, Progressive Greetings to name a few – these exhibitions have been with us since before I started working here. You can’t beat the relationships we have built up with clients like these over the years.”
How has the venue changed since you first started?
“To start with the building – it’s always being updated. The restaurant’s current makeover into Jack’s is brilliant. The BDC has a low turnover of staff so many of the faces are the same – and its great working with them. The sales team who work on conferences have a lot of input on delegate catering. They hear straight from their clients on what works so when they feed in their thoughts and ideas we get to evolve menus in a truly tailored manner. Whether it’s pizza’s and beers for a late night hackathon, a classy champagne cocktail reception or simply getting bacon sandwiches to delegates the morning after – we take great pride in getting it right.”
What’s the future got in store for catering at the BDC?
“As I mentioned the team are focusing on the delegate catering menus at the moment, so we’re looking forward to bringing these out in time for summer. The shows will really dictate where we go with food and drink this year and there are some brilliant events in the calendar. We’ve had a lot of fun in Jack’s restaurant so far in 2016 – look out for the new sandwiches; BDC staff have been telling us their favourites and we’ve been recreating them on the lunch menu.”
For more information on the Good Eating Company have a look at Our Partners section, and you can catch up on the previous Countdown to 30 features in our blog.
Posted by Kate