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Mice Net : February 2010
50 mice.net Some of the best events I have worked on came about because the event producer encouraged open and challenging conversations with suppliers and venues. We all know that an idea gets better as it rolls between a group of professionals, so my challenge to event producers and suppliers is: how can you challenge the brief? When a brief falls on your lap, how many times have you thought, 'I just know this could be better'? Encouraging and supporting open and creative conversations with all stakeholders is a great way to push the boundaries. In food and beverage management, often the original brief can be too prescriptive, limiting and developed from only one angle. I find great success when I ask clients, what are we trying to achieve here? How much interaction do you need? Do you need a course to act as a segue? Shall we add some drama or pizzazz with the food? What does the audience need? When we challenge a brief we are really searching, articulating and refining the purpose of the event. We are trying to seek clarity and direction. When designing the menu and delivery of food and beverage for an event it is important that your ideas don't overcompensate by communicating all your messages at once. Taking a concept from the advertising world, I like to ask, how can we get more white space into the food and beverage? By this I mean, how can you get more clarity, simplicity and impact with the food and beverage choices and delivery? How can I make the message obvious? Excellent food and beverage management is not about showing off all your talents at once -- it is always about meeting the needs of the audience. What do they need? Want? It is often the simple things -- like the plates and dishes the food is served on, the quantities, finger food that can be eaten simply, and friendly wait staff that make all the difference. To tie together the idea of clarity and the needs of your audience together, imagine you are having a conversation with them through food and beverage. If they come out from a conference meeting and they are tired and hungry, don't say, 'look at what we can do', say, 'you must need something refreshing' -- and have lots of simple and visually effective dishes ready to go. For the success of the event it would be much better to have gourmet pizzas delivered on mass to a hungry crowd than people lining up for fancy sausages! So back to my challenge: event producers and suppliers - open the channels of communication and be confident to bounce around ideas; have the audience's needs in mind; and enjoy the creative event success that will follow. See how others go at the challenge and share your personal Challenging The Brief results on twitter.com/fnbrilliant. OPEN COMMUNICATION CAN be the key to events with a difference. TOM RUTHERFORD, CHEF AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR, FNB WWW.FNB.COM.AU challenge THE BRIEF food and beverage STORY BY TOM RUTHERFORD