60 SECOND INTERVIEW
Create Food & Party Design Managing Director
Tom Barrett joined the Create Food & Party Design team in 2014, taking over as Managing Director in the autumn. Tom brings with him nine years of experience in senior executive roles at BaxterStorey, where he headed up the brand’s entry into Ireland and successfully delivered the London 2012 olympic Games contract. we caught up with him to hear more about what brought him to Create, and what changes we can expect from the award-winning caterer.
What attracted you to Create food & Party Design?
Create’s reputation for great food was a huge attraction for me, but I was also attracted by the huge potential which being part of The Concerto Group brings to the business. It is very exciting to take a business which has lots of untapped potential and be a part of helping to make it flourish, so I couldn’t wait to get on board.
What was your first job?
I’ve worked in hospitality throughout my working life, starting out with a summer job as a waiter in a hotel in Ireland, aged 15. I then undertook a two year hotel management apprenticeship and worked in hotels for three years before moving into retail catering and most recently the business and industry sector.
How did you get into events?
Create is my first events-specific role so I bring a slightly different perspective to the business. My previous roles all had aspects of event catering. The most significant of these was heading up the catering operation at the Main Media Centre at Stratford’s Olympic park during the 2012 Games.
How do you plan to develop the company?
I plan to focus on our strengths – food, service and people. I want to develop our bespoke event business, which is well respected by venues and clients, and grow this organically. Our new Executive Chef, Darren Deadman, and I are working on enhancing our food offer for 2015. Our Operations Director, Oliver Barnett, and I are working on service style and the presentation of our events. I want to develop our fantastic partnerships with event agents, giving them the catering experience they require to deliver top class events for their clients. Over time we will explore other opportunities, but only ones which fit the Create ethos of excellence in food and service.
Where do you see Create in five years’ time?
In five years I want Create to be delivering first class bespoke events to our existing London clients and venue partners. I want us to be sole caterer at a larger number of venues on the basis of the excellent service we can deliver for those venues. I want us to be operating outside of London more. I want us to have diversified into other areas of the hospitality sector but only when we are in a position to do so really well for our clients and customers. We will also further develop our relationships with group companies - Ultimate Experience, Mask, Crazy Cow and Concerto Live - so that they have a product from Create that assists with their business growth.
What inspires you?
Food, service and people! It’s what being in the hospitality sector is all about for me. There is huge talent in the Create team, designing and delivering great events. In particular our expert chefs who produce fantastic food daily and our talented event managers who guide 250 service staff to serve food and drink to 2,000 guests. That really inspires me. And of course appreciative customers will always let you know when a job’s been done well, which is a great morale boost for the whole team.
Tell us about your favourite Create dish.
It’s early days but my favourite so far has been Darren’s seared Orkney Isle Scallops, set on crispy Cumbrian black pudding, with warm cauliflower custard infused with truffle and dried scallop roe vinaigrette. Just fantastic!