norman_collier%5B1%5D.jpgThe 2007 Cateys awards are over, and once again I’m left with a roster of worthy winners, a hatful of memories and a sore head.
If you were there, I hope you had a great time. If you weren’t, here, in no particular order, are just a few of my highs and lows from the night.
* I’m always amazed by how many people are involved in pulling together an awards function. As I arrived in the Great Room, mid-afternoon, a swarm of staff and technicians were setting tables, ironing tablecloths, rigging lights, hanging light curtains, even painting walls. The faces of the guys responsible for building the tower of champagne glasses were a picture of concentration.
* Sabrage isn’t an easy art to master: just as guests began to drift in for pre-dinner drinks, a hapless Grosvenor House staffer managed to total a whole bottle while trying to lop off its neck with a sword.
* The Grosvenor House Hotel is looking well. I had a suite upstairs, lucky me, and the makeover has resulted in really welcoming guest rooms, and a lobby area that works well.
* Guest presenter, Dara Ó Briain, was great company during the soundcheck in the afternoon. he told me about some of his worst experiences of presenting events, including one bash where every table was festooned with balloons at eye-level – “I felt like I was telling gags to a roomful of ballonheads, and they could only see me from the waist down.” During the Cateys, he described the difficulties of presenting in the round (this year’s Cateys were conducted on a circular stage in the centre of the Great Room). It’s a great format, he said, “because it means half of you get to see my arse at any given moment”.
* Radio mikes should be treated with extreme caution. My hands-free headset mike sounded like a good idea, but its tendency to cut out through my opening speech left people comparing me to R2-D2, a Dalek and Norman Collier.
* Great food, as usual, from the team at the Grosvenor House. Marcus Wareing called the veal main course the best he had ever tasted at a Cateys night.
* Cigar-smoking Richard Shepherd doesn’t approve of the smoking law, as became abundantly clear in the lively conversation at our table over dinner.
* Congratulations to Yo! Sushi’s Robin Rowland for the most vigorous celebration of the night – brandishing his statue in the air, he reminded me of Sir Bobby Moore holding the World Cup aloft in ’66.
* The most touching moment? Richard Shepherd’s bearhug with Terry Holmes, after Terry had announced he was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award. Richard’s standing ovation from the audience was also a bit special.
* Chef Director at Lexington Catering, Rob Kirby’s five o’clock shadow almost took the skin off my face when he gave me a great big kiss at end of the night.
* Best dressed guest? Clearly Simon Woodroffe (check out next week’s Caterer for photo).