After our festival successes where we had been cooking up a storm at the likes of Glastonbury and Hampton Court Palace it seemed a natural progression to get our crew and show even further on the road with a ‘little bit of touring’. Artist and production tour catering was certainly something we fancied getting involved with at some point, but we never could have imagined it would come quite so quickly and in the guise of one of the world’s biggest and most successful tour companies, Cirque du Soleil. Certainly finding a bigger tour would be difficult to beat and we were determined to give these hardworking artists and production crew the service and healthy and nutritional food they needed to eat.
Founded by street performer Guy Laliberté in 1984, Montreal based Cirque du Soleil employs 5000 people, currently has around 20 worldwide productions showing globally and last year sold more than 14 million tickets with a total revenue of more than one billion dollars, so when they called Red Radish asking for a quotation it initially looked a little speculative for us to say the least.
Anyway, we pitched hard, they loved our food, sampled our great service and guess what? Red Radish won two European catering contracts for two tours. Our initial ideal of ‘dipping a toe’ in the touring industry waters was very quickly blown away as we found ourselves dusting off our TomToms, buying new trucks, road-casing our equipment and hitting the European roads on simultaneous tours with both Dralion and Quidam.
Two tours at once, catering in arenas as far away as Belarus and Gran Canarias, with a six-week London leg in the kitchens of London’s Royal Albert Hall did not come without its challenges and we very quickly learnt why the Cirque du Soleil machine was one of the slickest in the business. Basically there are no second chances and if we had any hope of keeping the contract we just had to strive to become as organised and detail focused as them. Eighteen months later and we are about to embark on yet another European tour that will see us catering in arenas from Bucharest to Bratislava, Budapest up to Rotterdam and then on to Scandinavia for Copenhagen, Helsinki and Oslo before heading back to Minsk, Poland, Estonia and Tel Aviv will hopefully show that we are fast learners who now consider ourselves a very small part of what is quite probably one of the most successful and logistically difficult tours in the business!