Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Feeding of the Masses Can Be a Hit-and-Miss Affair

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Feeding of the Masses Can Be a Hit-and-Miss Affair

Article excerpt

Byline: BILL OLDFIELD

I'VE been to Glastonbury for the last three years running. Not because I'm trying to stay young (that would surely be a vain effort) but because I love it.

I go for the music. There are approaching 40 stages or places where you can hear music being played and there are 200,000 people there appreciating it in an area measuring 20 square kilometres.

It's a massive festival that's extraordinarily well-organised. The reaction of most people when you tell them you're going is to laugh and mention the mud but, in the same way you rarely hear of any other stage than the Pyramid, it's more often than not sunny.

"No mud seen at Glastonbury" is not exactly an exciting headline so you only hear about it when it rains and that becomes the abiding memory. Of course, feeding 200,000 people over four or five days is a massive task and it's provided by hundreds of independent caterers. And what they do has always fascinated me. How they do it and why some succeed more than others is like seeing a microcosm of the restaurant industry; hundreds of kitchens and serveries, working flat-out, all in one place.

Some of them are very good; a lot are rubbish. I guess it reflects the wider industry in that the signs on the outside offer much but the eating leaves you wanting. Of course, being Glastonbury, there are a lot of veggie places and it's often there that you're likely to find a better-tasting meal. I put it down to the fact that vegetarians are, by nature, people who think more about what they're eating and that goes for the people providing a purely vegetarian menu. More often than not on the high street, it's difficult to make a vegetarian restaurant make money because of the fact that fewer than 10% of the population are vegetarian.

Making a living out of a restaurant is difficult enough if you have the choice of 100% of people. But at Glastonbury, the chances of success must be multiplied five-fold. …

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