One of my tips for career advancement in the music business is to know your place in ‘catering’, the area set aside backstage to feed everyone working on a show.
On a large-scale show (700-capacity and upward), it is common practice to bring in a catering crew to cook hot, nutritious meals for the artists, the touring crew, and (occasionally) the local crew. The catering crew either travels with the act for the duration of the tour or is a local crew sourced by the promoter. Catering crews work hard in either case. They start early and have to take into the venue everything they need to create hot, nutritional meals – ovens, gas bottles, fridges, flatware, ice machines and all the raw food. Caterers cook three main meals a day, and provide running buffets for up to 250 people a day, depending on the size of the production. And the food is always amazing, considering the environment the chefs prepare it in. Many of the world’s venues are not very good for producing music shows, let alone cooking!
I mention all this because, as with all modern show production, there is etiquette. Actually, it is just plain manners. So please consider these points when you file into catering to get your meal:
- The caterers are not your Mum, and the catering area is not a commercial restaurant. These people got up at 7:00 a.m. and will not finish until 1:00 a.m. It is tough if you dislike what they have prepared. If you have a major dietary concern, then you have to inform someone well in advance—such as your tour manager.
- Catering is the heart and soul of any show. People go there to meet up, to eat, and then to talk and relax. Be careful what you say here, especially if you are thinking of bitching about someone. Save that for your own transportation, your hotel room, or for when you have finished the tour.
- Clear your plates, cutlery, and waste when you have finished. Again, the caterers are not your Mum, and it is not a commercial restaurant. Someone else will have to clear up your mess if you leave it after you have done eating – and that’s not fair on them.
You may think I am overdoing it with the advice here. Unfortunately, I have worked with people who had no respect or manners for anyone on the show, especially the caterers. As I keep saying, you only get one shot at making an impression. If someone will put that much hard work into something so integral to life, health, and happiness as your food, then you had better show them some respect.