Friday, 20 May 2011

Bompas and Parr at Welbeck (Gasp)

 Back in the depths of March I spent a day in the beautiful (and I mean breathtakingly, dilapadated, paint-peelingly, decadently beautiful) Welbeck Estate (sadly I'm not permitted to show photos). I was chaperoning a group of our students who were spending a day working for the awesome Bompas and Parr. It was a cold, cold day, hidiously damp, driving rain. The type of day that really was designed for curling up on the sofa with a book and piles of blankets. We shivered all day, could see our breath forming plumes, even though it was indoors. After about 3 hours I resigned myself to it, my bones could not get any colder, my fingers had long since given up working. But it was perfect. Utterly perfect. The underground ballroom, lit only by candles, the neverending folly of elaborate tunnels and  the achingly fragile conservatory became the setting for a long-awaited event hosted by revered food artists Bompas and Parr. The 500 strong audience were taken on a journey through the darkness of the tunnels and underground rooms, carrying flaming torches, literally feeling their way, they encountered leeches, potions, dancers, music growing louder and louder. They followed the music into a vast oak pannelled library with a roaring fire, an orchestra is playing, the music is 'India Jones' and this is 'Taste O Rama'.

The audience settle down into seats in the library, at one end a massive screen has been set up. Two films are shown, the first is the premier of a short film made by our own students (who incidently have spent the day helping to prepare the whole event, and are now about to feed the audience), the second is a screening of 'India Jones and the Temple of Doom'. The audience are served food in flight trays, to be eaten as instructed at specific times during the film. The meal consists of 'antidode', monkey brains, an insect and some bloody, gutty type concoction, all created from foodstuffs by Bompas and Parr. Of course, I, being the big wimp I am, saved mine to bring home and show off gleefully to those unfortunate to encounter me in the following week.

It was an amazing  event, which truely transported the guests to a different place. It was escapism for all of the senses. I was so, so proud of our students, they worked incredibly hard, in difficult conditions and didn't once complain. Afterwards we all departed, and went our separate ways, me as fast as I could towards a very warm bath and fluffy hot water bottle. Living it up, as ever.

Last week my regular subscription to 'Crafts' magazine arrived. I've read this publication for years because it showcases cutting edge, contemporary craft and design. I was utterly, utterly delighted and shocked to see a four page spread about Bompas and Parr and the 'Taste O Rama' event, in which our students and our school was mentioned. If I'm honest, I might have actually blubbed a little, but only a teeny bit. I have a facade to maintain, after all!


  1. I read the article in the magazine.
    I wish I could have been there.
    You must be very proud of you students.


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