A Hobbit army marches on its belly

00:33, Jul 16 2012

Last weekend, the band that I sing in, The Boomshack Band, played at the wrap party for The Hobbit. I was totally looking forward to performing but, truth be told, the thing I was most looking forward to was the food.

Especially when I learned that it was being catered by Ruth Pretty Catering.

I've had Ruth's catering before - at a party that the band played at a couple of years back, as well as at the Wellington on a Plate launch. I had fond memories of burger sliders, of prawn skewers, soft-boiled egg halves with a crumb topping and slivers of rare roasted beef fillet. They, however, were at parties for maybe 50 or 60 people. This was a party for 3500...!!! Can it be done?

Well, it's gonna kinda have to be done. With the Weta Workshop army winding up filming (it is due around Christmas time), and having spent long hours getting it to this point, these people were going to be hungry as well as thirsty. I am intrigued as to what will be served up to the assembled throng. And as to whether we, as performers, will get to eat any of it.

I've been to a lot of weddings. I've played music at a lot of weddings. You are always treated a bit weird at weddings as a musician - you are neither guest nor wait staff. You are sort of like something in between. It's often a bit awkward, and you are often treated reasonably shabbily, despite best efforts. It's just, everyone's busy, and you often, usually, get kind of forgotten about. But here's a tip: if you want people to do a great job of entertaining you - feed them! FEED THEM!

We actually had a "minder", called Ali, assigned to us, to make sure that we had what we needed, and that any complications were sorted out. We had platters of thoughtfully selected food - fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, crisps, chocolate, hummus (Ruth has clearly been studying my tips on catering for a crowd...) The point being, performers are not necessarily there to eat fancy party food - they need stuff that will fuel the engine and keep them going over an evening's work. Good job. We also had chili bins filled with ice with beer, wine, juice and water. This dressing room was a happy and comfortable place to be.

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We also got a wristband that allowed us to partake of the food and beverages out in the party itself - a nice touch, classy, and, realistically a much better way to deal with the performer/guest divide than shutting you away and pretending you don't exist. It also means I can describe the offerings of which I partook...

By way of hors d'oeuvres, there are slivers of rare roast beef fillet on chopsticks, mussels in Asian ceramic spoons, trays full of club sandwiches, a sort of potato dauphinoise slice, and, my favourite, a little snapper cup with a crusty casing that is salty, savoury and delicious. There are so many catering staff, I don't reckon I see the same one twice the whole night through. And it occurs to me, this is how you cater for this many people - with heaps of staff. And mountains of food. Obviously...

With the aid of my trusty wristband, I am able to sample some of the wares on offer. The food is being served up from individual stations that each do a different dish - here, a beef (or vege) pie, there a burger, a hot dog, and, my favourite - a grilled chicken fillet with a fresh tasting slaw and croutons. Light, tasty, filling - perfect food fuel for an evening's (ahem) rocking around the clock. I also have a burger, just to, you know, be thorough, which I manage to chomp into and squirt mushroom juice all down my tie. Doh!

The whole thing is impressive and an amazingly slickly run event for something on such a monster scale. There are two rooms - the main room of the TSB Arena, plus a side room (which is normally used as a car park). And, while I shudder to imagine how much the whole shebang cost, if you consider what this actually is - a work party for a workplace that has a lot of employees, it has been amazingly successful as an event. The potential for disaster is immense - you run out of food, or booze, or security is too heavy-handed, or not diligent enough.

But no. None of that. It has been a hugely successful event that the partygoers seem to have enjoyed and that I, as a performer, have been able to enjoy far more than I thought I would. Bravo, Weta-folks - you throw a mean knees-up, and we in the Boomshack camp thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the hospitality to which we were treated. Bravo, Ruth Pretty Catering - a massive undertaking on a paramilitary scale, handled with ease - with good grace and great food. And thanks, Ali the minder, for putting up with us!

Was anyone else at the Hobbit wrap party? How did you enjoy it? What did you most enjoy eating at it? What's the biggest party you've ever attended - and how was the food?!

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