One Amazing Experience

Philip Atkins

Philip Atkins, MD & Founder of Off to Work, talks to leading event company leaders about planning their own party. Taking them through their venue of choice, the drinks, food, entertainment, celebrity guests, music and overall feel of the event we hear inspirational ideas, creative touches and learn what makes a great party.

While going through we also hear about their own career challenges, highs and lows and how they have successfully built their businesses up. This includes advice to others going through the trading difficulties brought on by Covid 19 from previous learnings.

All Episodes

As summer events and celebrations come alive I am delighted to be joined by Rick Perry , Managing Director of By Word of Mouth. By Word of Mouth are one of the most long established and decorated caterers in the London market, established in 1981, and listed at over 50 venues and with a reputation for delivering exceptional events from Harry Potter film premieres to Vogue parties. Rick has been with By Word of Mouth for 22 years, joining the team initially as party planner until, as he put it, he found a proper career. Thankfully for the industry Rick realised his calling and he worked his way up through the ranks to his current lead role. Rick’s celebratory event takes place at Hampton Court Palace for 150 friends and colleagues. English sparkling wine and canapes, including scallops wrapped in pancetta. Rick goes for a vegan starter followed by Halibut and a Taster Pudding Bar. The London Essentials provide roaming music from classical music to Britney Spears and other entertainment is provided by Stevie Wonder with Marilyn Monroe and Roger Federer also as invited guests. Rick talks about the importance of focusing on the food and staying always aligned to your company culture and the ethos of “no compromise” – doing the very best in what they do. Equally how they have driven success by always thinking ahead and pre-emptively avoiding issues: it is always better to have an item and not need it than to not have it and need it. Rick also touches on changing trends in menu choice with veganism and fish becoming ever more popular and also the ever increasing desire, both from within his team and clients, to ensure a sustainable and social aware way of doing business. Like all other caterers By Word of Mouth had to pivot during the Pandemic and they took the time to develop their own frozen dine at home range: Friese to expand their business and provide greater robustness to their business model. From discussing  the challenges of dealing with working around Nelson Mandela’s speech time to serve a cheese souffle to 300 guests, to how they work with City Harvest to provide meals to those less fortunate in society Rick is truly inspiring to hear from.

Aug 13

57 min 18 sec

I am delighted to be joined by Richard Meyer, Director for Flourish & Blue Strawberry Group for this episode of One Amazing Experience. Blue Strawberry, previous winners of FSM Event Caterers of the Year, have been operating for over 30 years, are listed at some of London’s most prestigious venues and have provided catering and event management services from high level corporate events to Royal weddings. Flourish is their new venture providing in-house catering solutions to the corporate environment. Richard has over 20 years’ experience in events and hospitality management. His career started working as a Lodge Manager on a game reserve in South Africa and, since moving to the UK, has seen him continue to  work at some of the most awe inspiring venues in the UK. He has worked for both independent operators and large market leading conglomerates capturing great learnings from both. While his career has developed, and his role gained ever more responsibility, Richard has never lost his love of providing an exceptional hospitality experience for guests and, most importantly, his sense of fun. And his own event would most definitely be fun: set in the stunning surroundings of Hampton Court Palace Richard treats his guests to a beautiful dinner in the  regal 16th century Great Hall. Richard will be serving guest Smoked Mackerel Paté , Roast Venison and a wonderful selection of cheeses. Michael McIntyre will be on hand to entertain guests and then, by special request from Richard, the cheesiest disco possible will be had in the Undercroft. Richard talks through the important lessons he has learnt over the years from taking time to evaluate a situation, to understanding the different needs of the business you are in and the clients you are servicing, and enjoying the challenges in front of you.  He discusses the importance of keeping control and how, when working for independent caterers, there is the ability to give that extra personal service. He discusses the many influences on his success from Molly Roland, Sarah Hammond, Bill Toner and Stuart Jenkins all adding to his business management skills and client understanding. Richard is a true ambassador for the Events & Hospitality industry, the diverse experiences and career growth it gives and most importantly the fun can be had (especially when, like him, embarrassment is not an issue).

Jul 2

47 min 47 sec

On World Environment Day I am delighted to be joined by Nick Mead, Managing Director of Eden Caterers for a One Amazing Experience special. Eden have been certified as one of the most sustainable caterers in the UK and have been awarded a 3 Star Food Made Good Rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association. From having the Environment Trust as their first landlord to being invited to be part of the team to write the Sustainability policy for the London Olympics, which came to be ISO 2012, they have remained at the forefront of sustainable practises. Nick talks us through his beautiful sunset party on a beach in Belize. From guests arriving by boat being met by steelpan drummers and mojitos and mango bellinis to then being served a sumptuous barbeque with lobster, prawns and lamb. The meal is finished with Sicilian Orange Gelato with Will Ferrell keeping the humour flowing and Bruno Mars doing a set to get the party really going. Guests depart as sun rises by boat again with scuba gear at the ready after having given each other the gift of a big hug goodbye. While going through it we touch on how sustainability practises are maintained through the company. This starts from all team members receiving sustainability training, having a clear annual sustainable development plan that is reviewed on annual basis, to having set principles on no single use plastic, zero to landfill, having their own beehives, doing a bike tour of the coastline of the UK and even going so far as to have a corn starch based alternative to clingfilm created for them. Eden also focus on supporting their local community be this launching the Waterloo Foodbank Supporters scheme in 2013 to lending their vehicles to the Felix Project who have provided over 11 million meals to Londoners in need in 2021 alone. It is an inspiring conversation showing how sustainability and care for the environment can remain at the core of a business and be supportive of a quality and commercial successful operation. Eden, in line with World Environment Day, really do reimagine, recreate and restore faith in how a business can and should operate.

Jun 5

57 min 23 sec

I am delighted to be joined by Bronwen Stephens-Harding, Founder of Rogue Opera. Rogue Opera’s premise is to bring Opera to the masses. Bronwen declared her ambition to be an opera singer at the age of 5. While her career has taken her from teaching English in Japan, to working in the hospitality industry, and in marketing, her passion to make a career out of Opera has never diminished. Having come from her Australia, via Japan & Thailand, Bronwen has made London her home since 2001. While working in marketing she gained her licence to busk on the London Underground and from the hardened commuter’s positive reaction to her singing it encouraged her to make a business from her love of Opera and to carry on taking opera to a new audience. While discussing her career and business development Bronwen talks us through her Fantastical Summer Party in the Walled Garden of Wormsley Estate. The party provides a wonderful twist on a traditional English Garden Party adding an immersive experience with theatrical aspects of Narnia and the Hobbit. Guests are treated to Fizz and Gin Cocktails and dinner is a Fig & Goats Cheese salad, followed Salmon escalope with ginger beans, and dessert being assorted chocolates served by actors and singers around the garden. Guests would be treated to roaming promenade of entertainers: acrobats & magicians and musicians. The first dance track is You’ve got the love sung by Candy Station and Sir David Attenborough will be attending to Eco-friendly fireworks will mark the end of a wonderful evening and guests will be given wildflower seeds as a parting gift. Rogue Opera provides shows to both the public and corporate market and Bronwen talks about one of her highlights: getting 700 corporate delegates, with no singing experience, to perform the humming chorus from Madame Butterfly. Bronwen discusses the importance of checklists and having a clear & defined focus and forward plan for your business. She also chats through the importance of pivoting to an on-line performance subscription model during the pandemic to stay relevant and engaged in the market and provide her freelancers income opportunities. With future growth planned into Singapore and the Middle East and her absolute passion to take Opera to new horizons it is a truly inspiring conversation for listeners.

May 21

57 min 10 sec

I am delighted to be joined by Jay Burgesson-Carter, Managing Director of Food Show. Food Show are a high end London caterer that have been operating for 34 years and are now have the in-house contract for events at Chiswick House. Jay takes us through his fabulous party for 100 friends and family at the Tower of London.  Set in the White Tower the party has a beautiful opulent feel with velvet furniture and lush floral arrangements. The event will be black tie and as glamorous as possible reflecting the celebratory feel to the occasion The guests are greeted with Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne and, amongst others, The Food Show’s very special Steak and Frites canape. Dinner is a real sumptuous affair including Food Show’s Head to Toe chicken and sticky toffee pudding with coconut sorbet. Jay’s family originates from West Africa and he has Nelson Mandela along to make a speech and most definitely wow his guests. To give a balancing lightness, and a bit of fun, Jay has a great drag act, Le Gateaux Chocolat,. Prince and Tina Turner tracks lead the guests to the dance floor and, as guests depart, fireworks light up the Tower of London. Jay’s parting gift is a book of conversations reflecting his passion and skill at making people feel at ease and part of the occasion. He talks us through the importance of always treating the client as King and equally the budget as Queen. He discusses the importance of never taking anything for granted and ensuring there is enough diversity in your offering to provide consistent revenue and growth opportunities. Jay talks us through his career development from event co-ordinator up to Managing Director via three different caterers in London. he gives a great insight on how to build a career in the events industry treating every challenge as an opportunity and being willing to learn and master every aspect of running a catering business. It was an absolute pleasure to  interview Jay and he gives listeners wonderful party ideas and an insight into the successful running of a catering business during the good and bad times.

May 14

46 min 7 sec

I am delighted to be joined today by Daniel Gill, Founder of the Dine Group. Dine Group incorporates Dine, Dine Delivered and Rise Hall and has been operating for 23 years. Dine were winners of The Cateys in 2018, and CHS awards in 2019 reflecting their commitment to Making Every Event Special. Daniel talks us through the amazing development of the group including the foresight to start Dine Delivered two years before the pandemic and the purchase of the 97 room stately home, Rise Hall. While discussing the trials, learnings and successes of his career Dan talks us through the amazing party he would put on for 60 close friends and family. The party will be held in the Mirror Gallery at Versailles Palace, France. The party will be in keeping to its surroundings with a Crystal and Candleabra theme and regency touches. The dinner reflects Daniel’s love of fine food and drink with canapes including Pan Fried Scallops, Foie Gras and Shaved Radish with a julienne of vegetables. A Starter of Salt Cod Balls, a main course of Fillet of Beef served on a shin of beef and dessert a Grand Marnier Souffle. All much better explained by Daniel himself. Dan was brought up in hospitality with his parents running a Michelin starred restaurant in Leeds, Yorkshire. His parents have continued to be an inspiration to him with their exceptional work ethic and passion for food & service. Dan’s schooling in events included working under Pru Leith at Leith’s Events & Parties and then with Glynn Woodin at Mustard Catering in London. He started his own business back in Yorkshire driving around Leeds delivering sandwiches and built his business up brick by brick: He admits to being a control freak when it comes to the development of his business. Daniel talks us through the importance of being  clear about your product, doing your homework, and believing you will get your break. He talks through this attention to detail including doing dress rehearsals for Dine Delivered so they are happy that clients will be able to successfully serve up a visual treat. He also touches on the importance of learning from your clients, be these private or corporate, and reminisces on meeting Nelson Mandela and how his ability to make the service team feel part of the occasion had such an impact. Having bought Rise Hall with his wife in 2019 from TV Celebrity Property Developer, Sarah Beaney, he talks through the importance of being able to look at venue through the eyes of a client, and the trials and tribulations of managing a historic building as an events venue. Daniel also covers business through the pandemic and how keep your team intact as much as you can and being honest about what you know and simply can’t know are key to bouncing forward. Daniel’s party finishes with violinists standing on the dining tables playing modern covers, Deacon Blue playing live and Pete Tong djing ensuring a fun experience for all. Guests then depart through the lawns at the rear of the Palace, onto boats across the lake and into limousines home. Overall Daniel gives a wonderful insight into his business success while talking us through one truly amazing experience.

May 7

55 min 39 sec

I am delighted to be joined by Ruth , Managing Director of The Admirable Crichton. The Admirable Crichton celebrate their 40th year in 2021 as one of London’s most prestigious and innovative caterers.  Ruth’s career over the last 25 years has equally seen her working at some of the best venues in London including Royal Palaces, Exclusive Private Homes, The RAC Club and National Architectural Gems. In true Ruth style she takes us all to the Russian Tea Room in New York for an immersive and hugely fun 80’s themed party. Greeted by actors dressed as Polar Bears on Roller skates, and with the venue decked in full neon, the scene is set for the celebrations ahead.  Guests will be served 1911 Champagne, Bramble Cocktails and stunning canapes. Dinner starts by staying true its Russian home with a Smoked Salmon & Caviar Bar and, with Ruth being a pescatarian,  for the main course guests are served Nobu’s Blackened Cod. This is followed by Baked Alaska and an extensive cheese trolley to graze on as the evening progresses. Keeping it 80’s Rick Astley will be there to get guests on the dancefloor and the amazing actor, presenter and raconteur, Michael Palin, will be there for enlightening and uplifting conversation. Ruth touches on her amazing memories from working in the events industry and the mentors who have led her through the good times and the bad as her career has progressed. Ruth takes us through her learnings, actions and hopes from her career and through the pandemic period. She touches on how it has accelerated pivots, how it has helped to re-invigorate her love for events and the light it has thrown on the importance of creating the right work / life balance in the events industry in the long term. She is open about how she has learnt from her mistakes and how she continues to look at ideas from different industries that can be incorporated into events driving future success. Overall it was an absolute pleasure to discuss her career and her fabulous party and I shall hold out hope for the invite envelope arriving at some point in my letter box.

Apr 28

1 hr

I am delighted to be joined by Paul Jackson, Managing Director of Searcy’s and Portico. Paul’s career in the hospitality industry over the last 30 years has allowed him to work at some of the UK’s finest venues, including Cliveden House Hotel, and to be a Leader within three of the UK’s largest Hospitality Companies: Sodexo, CH & Co and WSH. Paul talks us through his amazing party for family and friends on Woolacombe Beach, Devon. The event takes place in three conjoined Moroccan Marquees providing a dining area, dance & reception space and a cigar lounge. Guests enjoy a sumptuous four course meal including Lobster & Mango salad, barbequed marinated beef, Strawberry Romanoff and Camembert soaked in Calvados and served on sliced apple. From the fun of toasting marshmallows round a firepit and sandcastle building competitions to dancing to Abba and the pleasures of smoking Montecristo No. 5’s his party will be a truly fitting celebration of being able to meet again post Pandemic. While orchestrating his party Paul talks us through his career and what has driven success for him personally, and the companies he has worked for. This includes the ability to pre-empt guest needs even before they do, the importance of creating a culture led business, not accepting second best, having exacting standards and giving clear guidance to your team of what success looks like. Paul touches on his best memories from the industry from managing events at Buckingham Palace to hosting Thomas Cook’s 250thcelebrations with Princess Diana in attendance. Paul also discusses his fear of procrastination and why perfection can never be truly achieved. He also addresses the challenges he and his businesses have faced during the pandemic and how he has managed his team through the crisis. Paul’s career has been shaped by his raison d’etre of wanting to look after people and his success and fabulous party reflects his huge ability to do so. This is an incisive and inspiring podcast which should be listened to, as Paul would suggest, while enjoying a glass of Searcy’s Rose Champagne.

Apr 16

52 min 20 sec

I am delighted to be joined by Philipp Mosimann, Joint Managing Director of Mosimann’s. Mosimann’s Catering are Holders of a Royal Warrant to HRH Prince of Wales and their business also includes renowned Mosimann’s Club in Belgravia , in-house catering at Guard’s Polo Club and Royal Lymington Sailing Club, and Mosimann’s Hampers. Philipp joined Mosimann’s in 2007 after three years in Switzerland, where he was Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Moevenpick Restaurants, after having worked for Equinox Complex of fine-dining restaurants at Raffles City, part of the former Raffles International group. Philipp graduated from Lausanne Hotel School in 2000 and received “Alumnus of Year 2015”. He has worked in the Hotel Nassauerhof in Wiesbaden, Germany, Hotel Crillon in Paris, Villa Principe Leopoldo in Lugano Switzerland and the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. Philipp has also been running ultras since 2003 and has completed the following 250km foot race Racingtheplanet Dessert and Roaming Races: Gobi, Atacama (Team Commonwealth 1st position), Sahara, Vietnam, Namibia & Nepal. He recently also completed the prestigious 166km, 9500m positive altitude non stop Ultra Trail Mont Blanc Race in 2014 & 2015. Philipp talks us through the wonderful, and extremely fun party for his friends at Mosimann’s Club, London where the drinks will flow freely, some of Mosimann’s classic dishes will be savoured and amazing entertainment on show to wow his guests. Philipp speaks eloquently and thoughtfully about running such an esteemed Family Business and his learnings from working around the world. He has an extremely positive message about the remobilisation of hospitality in Singapore post Sars and what this may mean for the year ahead post the Covid Pandemic. Philipp also touches on how he handles the big challenges in the business. This includes having to relocate a high level sports related dinner with international dignitaries in Rio, Brazil for 400 guests with only 7 hours’ notice. Philipp is also an exceptional ultra-runner and lots can be learnt from both the discipline it has taken him to train do these and the cultures that it has immersed him in. His insight into Bhutan and its Ministry of Happiness, which makes sure the Nation’s happiness is put before anything else, are truly enlightening. Overall this is one of the most thought provoking and engaging podcasts of this series so far and I hope it is a piece of positivity as we look to the summer ahead.

Mar 26

1 hr 23 min

I am delighted to be joined by Tim Brennan, Founder and Managing Director of Award Winning Caper & Berry Caterers and Chairman of Bespoke Events London. Caper & Berry have been operating for 20 years servicing high-end weddings, private and corporate events at some of the must stunning venues in London and the South East of England. Venues include Royal Academy of Arts, Syon House, Kew Gardens and Hedsor House. They are also the in-house caterer at Chichester Theatre, where Tim has had the opportunity to serve the Queen. Tim talks us through his sumptuous English Country party set in the Surrey Hills for eighty of his close friends and family. Set in a  marquee festooned with lights and flowers guests are treated to wonderful cocktails, Whispering Angel Rose, White and Red Burgundy wines, Oysters, Carved Iberico Hams, a Persian Barbeque and to finish off simply Ben & Jerry’s Fish food ice cream. Entertainment comes from Coldplay and The Killers and fireworks light up the skies as the party draws to an end. While revealing his party Tim talks us through the development of Caper & Berry as a business and his early experiences in the industry. From initially working in Hotels in the Middle East, to starting a Gourmet Food Truck business straight out of University, Tim has come a long way leading Caper & Berry to 20 years of success. While going through the highs, and lows, of running a business he touches on the importance of waiting, reviewing events objectively before taking action and always doing the right thing by your team and clients. He also discusses the impact the Pandemic has had on his business and the pivots that Caper & Berry have had to make to get through it and the positive opportunity it has given to stop and think. Tim addresses the need to, and focus on, enjoying the work you do and this is undoubtedly mirrored by the amazing experience guests would have at Tim’s party.

Mar 15

45 min 3 sec

I am delighted to be joined for this episode of One Amazing Experiences by Atul Lakhani, Managing Director and Founder of Sanjay Foods. Sanjay Foods have won no fewer than 17 Catering and Event Management Awards including Best Caterer in the British Asian Wedding Awards. Atul has also won a Pride of India Award for his for his company’s professional, creative, innovative and forward-thinking contribution to the hospitality industry in the UK. He has also recently been nominated to Chair the Large-Scale Weddings Working Group representing the Government appointed UK Weddings Taskforce and takes a lead role in the promotion of the UK Hospitality and Events Industry. Atul talks us through his beautiful and opulent Maharaja themed party taking place at The IXL, Dallas Burston Polo Club for 400 industry colleagues and friends to celebrate his 20 years in the catering industry. A magical musical symphony of musical acts and virtual elephants welcome guests as they arrive in the opulent surroundings to be greeted with cocktails & mocktails, Laurent Perrier Rose and Whisky flowing freely. Sanjay’s exceptional Indian and Asian fusion food is served by traditionally dressed staff. They deliver succulent seafood and delightful vegetarian dishes, including the house specialty Chaat, plus breads straight from  their in-venue tandoori ovens. Guests are entertained by numerous exceptional interactive entertainers, DJs and the performances culminate in George Michael playing live. Atul also offers great insight into his career and how he has successfully built up his business. From standout moments such as feeding 40,000 people at Olympia to how fate played its hand in delivering an opportunity for him to buy into his own special events venue. He talks through his learnings, through the good times and the bad, and the very varied and exceptional influences that have ensured he remains focused on delivering a quality product in an ethical, caring and commercially successful way. He touches on the importance of continual investment into your product, of following your passion and putting your all into your business. All while learning from your mistakes, never taking yourself too seriously or allowing yourself ego trips. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to Atul and as he says "when we come through this pandemic it will be time to be happy" and his party will make certain of that.

Feb 1

58 min 17 sec

I am delighted to be joined by Graham Hill, Awards Director for the Event Photography Awards, previously Managing Director of Square Meal Events & Venues and now Founder of Graham Hill Consulting. Graham’s career, from the age of 16, has been entwined in the organising of parties and events and he throws a truly exceptional and fun occasion for his guests. Taking place at the stunning Burgh Island Hotel the black tie event plays up to the 1920’s Art Deco feel of the location. Graham’s passion for food & wine, and love of fine restaurant dining, ensures he has a near encyclopaedic knowledge in cuisine. This is demonstrated in the gastronomic adventure he takes his guests on from starters inspired by Alain Ducasse, proper Yorkshire Roast Beef, and an Italian influenced retro dessert. With Strictly Dancers, “Bandeoke” and the exceptional raconteur ,Stephen Fry, adding a touch of Jeeves to the event it will be a party not forgotten. Graham also discusses how he made it in the industry including the importance of helping people who ask for help, pulling together at difficult times, having a clear and easy to understand brand and keeping a positive attitude - as displayed by the many industry leaders he cites as influences. Graham also talks through lessons learnt in life including the importance of a full drinks cabinet and the surprising virtues of Wensleydale cheese being served with Christmas Cake. It was a pleasure to to interview Graham and his joie de vivre, passion for events and love of food and drink come together to provide an entertaining and educational hour for listeners.

Dec 2020

1 hr 1 min

I am delighted to have Paul Jackson, Managing Director of High-End Caterers Alison Price, join me for One Amazing Experience. Prior to his 21 years with Alison Price he worked with esteemed caterers, Searcy’s and started his career working as a Private Butler. Paul takes us through his fabulous birthday event at Blenheim Palace while discussing both educational and funny experiences from his time in events.  From working for a high net worth individual who owned 32 Rolls Royce and his own gunboat to being stuck in a lift with Nelson Mandela to how the Queen likes to mix her own martini and the importance of a properly addressed hand delivered event invite. He also addresses how the events industry has adapted in recent times and the importance of leading by example: only asking people to do what you would be happy to do yourself. Paul touches on how Alison Price have dealt historically in recessions and equally how they have scaled up from doing events for up to 200 to now comfortably catering up to 2000. Paul gives us a glimpse of the  unique experiences working in the events industry has provided him, and his passion and creativity which culminate in him putting on a spectacular event for his 300 guests including his chosen celebrity, Elizabeth Taylor.

Nov 2020

52 min 12 sec

I am delighted to be joined by Bonnie May, the Global Operations Director of catering and hospitality specialist, Global Infusion Group. Bonnie epitomises what many would see as the ultimate role in events. Over 30 years Bonnie has flown the world touring with some of the biggest bands and singers such as James Brown, The Eagles and Coldplay as well as unique acts such as Cirque du Soleil. She has also been involved in the catering delivery to 5 major International Games and has delivered corporate events around the world for up 12000 guests. In 2021 GIG are the chosen caterers for the British Pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai for 6 months. At the National Business Women’s Awards 2019 Bonnie won the Veuve Cliquot International Women’s Award category before receiving the accolade of Overall Winner. Bonnie takes us through a delightful festival themed event close to home with amazing entertainment and lovely little touches to make it an occasion to remember. While going through her event she talks through the amazing stepping stones, including working with Red Bull from its infancy and getting it on the Bruce Springsteen tour, that have led GIG to the point it’s at today. We discuss her learnings from delivering international projects, how they have had to adapt their business in the current crisis and what continues to drives her and the whole Global Infusion Group team forward. An insight not to be missed. One Amazing Experience is produced by Philip Atkins, Founder Managing Director of www.offtowork.co.uk to promote the importance of the events industry and to provide uplifting and fun insight for those working in the events industry, running their own business or simply interested in the business of events.

Nov 2020

53 min 16 sec

I am delighted to be joined on One Amazing Experience by Mike Kershaw. Mike is one of the most influential and experienced Directors, Advisors and Investors within the events industry. He is the former Chairman of leading integrated events company The Concerto Group and former President of the UK Chapter of ILEA. A very experienced event professional and venue marketeer, he led Concerto through several acquisitions and the development of numerous venues across London. Having recruited a new CEO in 2013, Mike stepped down in 2015 and has set up Kershaw Partners to bring his extensive experience to bear on emerging event companies and venues. In 2015 he was appointed non-executive Chairman of AOK Events Group and wefindvenues.com and he is a senior advisor to leading caterers Smart Group and Caper & Berry, mobile pub company Pubs on Wheels, marketing agency Air Social and event tech companies Tapfuse and Simpli-Fi. Mike provides a real insight into the overall development of the Events Industry over the last 40 years and the importance it plays in society and the business world. He shows his immense passion for the industry and equally his huge entrepreneurial spirit. While taking us through his fantastic party at Old Billingsgate Market in London he reflects on the fun and educational time his career has provided. From dressing up as US Colonel to greet his guests, to putting on indoor barbeques, to buying a US muscle car as an events’ dice game prize, to company leadership of a integrated events company turning over £50m+ a year, appearing on national news and successfully petitioning government to double the tax free amount companies could spend on their staff events - he has done it all. More than anything Mike shows his exceptional positive spirit and joie de vivre that his led him to great success over the last 40 years. He gives thoughtful advice as to how we do get through this unseen before difficult period for the events industry, the importance of working in unison as an industry, and puts on a party we would all love to be on the guest list for. One Amazing Experience is produced by Philip Atkins, Founder Managing Director of www.offtowork.co.uk to promote the importance of the events industry and to provide uplifting and fun insight for those working in the events industry, running their own business or simply interested in the business of events.

Nov 2020

1 hr 8 min

This week I am delighted to be joined by Sue Barnes, founder of renowned and Royal florist, Lavender Green. Over their 30 years of trading Sue, and her husband David, have built Lavender Green up to be regarded by many as the leading event florist in London and the home counties. Listed as a preferred supplier at over 70 of the Unique Venues of London, and having done the floristry for Prince Edward & Sophie Wessex and more recently Pippa Middleton and James Matthews wedding, they have an exceptional reputation for providing flowers to Royal and Society events. Sue remains very much hands on in the business and has personally been to over 1500 weddings to oversee their support. Sue gives listeners an insight into the success of Lavender Green and those stepping stones that led to her business development. From a guest From all her experience Sue takes us through a magical event at the Palace of Versailles with an event that blends the stunning French setting with English character, fun and wonderful attention to detail.

Sep 2020

49 min 13 sec

This week I am delighted to be joined by Industry legend, Johnny Roxburgh. Johnny has worked in the events industry for over 40 years and, as other Podcasts in this series have certified, has been an inspiration to many companies and leaders over the years. One of the co-founders of The Admirable Crichton, and now of Johnny Roxburgh Party Architects, he is renowned for his exceptional creativity, joie de vivre and immense intention to detail. His vision and event designs have allowed him to manage some of the most high profile and uber budget events. Johnny talks to us from his sun drenched garden in Norfolk (please excuse slight inherent connection challenges!) about the event he would put on at Spencer House and all the magic he would provide for his guests. From Polar Bears to waiters in tutus his creativity and understanding of how to put on a show are on full display for his 700 guests. While talking us through the event we touch on how his business has evolved over the years, the influences on him, what has driven his success, his exceptional work ethic and the importance of looking after your team in an economic downturn. His passion, ideas and experience of managing over 9000 events, from Spice Girl weddings to exotic events around the world, provide an inspiring and colourful insight into his world for listeners.

Aug 2020

29 min 3 sec

In this episode Philip, Managing Director of Off to Work,  talks to David Wise , Founder and Managing Director of Wise Productions, on the party he would organise.  David chooses a location very close to home and in his normal underplayed style ensures all his guests are in for a treat.. David also talks through his amazing career and the development of Wise Productions. From starting on his own and going through many, what only can be described as "Only Fools & Horses" moments, to being listed at Royal Palaces, Stately Homes and providing audio visual services to high profile and celebrity events. David has exceptional words of advice for those running their own businesses on both how to go towards success and how to deal with the difficulties in an economic downturn. 

Aug 2020

47 min 8 sec

This week we have the pleasure of meeting Lena Bjorck, Co-Founder and Managing Director of caterers, Alexander & Bjorck. Lena takes us to the magical beaches of Ireland for her party and talks us through the highs and lows of her business life. From setting up her original company, Inn or Out, with no culinary experience, to serving Royal Families and American Ambassadors.  Lena then sold her company  to start a family, and then started again with Des Gunewardena as the events arm of D & D Restaurants. Lena has seen highs and lows through her many years of business leadership and offers wise words for those looking to set-up their own or struggling with leadership through the present Covid-19 Crisis. Lena is inspirational showing the merits of hard work and sticking to your values.

Jul 2020

33 min 7 sec

This week I am joined by Hattie Mauleverer, Founder and Managing Director of Top Hat Catering. Founded in 2002, Top Hat's reputation has grown to the point where they were voted Small Caterer of the Year at The London Catering Awards 2019.  Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, and having changed her career from original starting as a headhunter, Hattie takes us through the influences, highs and lows of growing her business. Hattie has also been particularly prolific in her lobbying action to get the challenges that event suppliers are struggling with during the Covid pandemic recognised and we discuss her thoughts and hopes.     Hattie takes us to a party at the Roundhouse in Camden where the influences of her 7 year old daughter become clear. Talking through the food, drink, entertainment, celebrity guest, industry influences Hattie provides some great creative ideas and inspiring thoughts for listeners.

Jul 2020

42 min 42 sec

This week we are joined by the wonderful Lucy Verner, Managing Director for Urban Caprice - the exceptional event arm of Caprice Holdings.  Lucy takes us to a sumptuous event at Aynhoe Park in the English countryside and talks us through how love started her in the industry, winning barista competitions, leadership challenges and getting the most out of her team, the importance of sticking to what you do best and some amazing places the events industry has taken her. Full of wisdom, creative ideas and an exceptional passion for events Lucy gives listeners a true insight into her world and the highs and pitfalls of running an event catering company.

Jul 2020

48 min 40 sec