The darker side of eating out
Dawn Holding enjoys the North West’s growing trend in gourmet fine dining as much as any food fan, but life behind the scenes, in busy kitchens at the region’s Michelin-starred or high street restaurants, hotels, gastro pubs and catering businesses, is not always as glamorous as the celebrity chef-driven TV shows might suggest.
The stress of the North West’s fastest-growing leisure pursuit can take a heavy toll on chefs and their front-of-house colleagues in today’s high-pressure hospitality businesses. Which is why Dawn has become increasingly involved in the industry’s benevolent charity Hospitality Action, for which she is now the regional fundraising coordinator.
Last year, the charity distributed nearly £750,000 in funding to more than 2,000 hospitality professionals, each needing grants to cope with a wide range of personal problems – from drug and alcohol addiction, life-changing illnesses and domestic violence through to the traumatic aftermath of bereavement and redundancy.
Sadly, this is the darker side of a world many perceive as glittering and so desperately want to become a part of.
The financial support and counselling that this downside demands is what now drives Dawn’s career.
The south Manchester-born specialist in food and drink marketing has become a well-known figure on the city’s hospitality circuit. Her career in the industry began more than 30 years ago, when she was appointed sales and marketing manager in the North East and Midlands for the Virgin-owned group of four-star country house hotels.
Later, as amarketing consultant for restaurateurs like Paul Heathcote and Raymond Blanc, she built up a market-leading expertise in that sector.
Clients spanned public and private sectors; from independent stand-alone bars and restaurants to high-profile food and drink businesses. Dawn broadened a range of services to incorporate corporate branding, interior decorating and menu planning, not to mention public relations, social media, advertising, marketing, major launches, events and promotions.
She became the go-to person when it came to increasing footfall, improving performance and enhancing profitability.
Her love of fine food and equally fine wine is just as well known – which is why she took up running and joined Sale Harriers to keep trim and create some calorie space for the next plateful. She runs at least 20 miles a week, attends plus yoga and Metafit classes,and has completed four marathons, around 15 half-marathons and countless 10ks in the UK and abroad.
Dawn is often busy organising fundraising events in aid of Hospitality Action. Supported by some of the region’s leading chefs and backed by the likes of Aiden Byrne and Nigel Haworth, these prestigious affairs have nowbecome legendary in the North West.
Her latest is the Northern Polo Day at Little Budworthon Sunday 24th June, where adrink and canapé reception on the lawns of the Cheshire Polo Club will whet appetites for a three-course lunch by award-winning chefs Andrew Nutter (Nutters Restaurant), Simon Shaw (El Gato Negro – the only Manchester restaurant to receive a prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand last year) and Sean Sutton (Head Chef at the Alderley Edge Hotel).
After a fast-paced polo match, the day will finish with a ‘to-die-for’ afternoon cream tea in the marquee.
But it won’t quite end there for Dawn Holding… she’ll be out again the following morning, pounding her running shoes to burn off all those calories.
For more information about the Northern Polo Day, for sponsorship or to buy tickets, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07766 753310
Author : Emily Fitzgibbons
Editor at The Glossy Magazine | Journalist & Office Manager at Salutions Limited