This week's Newsmaker is Rob Prior who is the food and beverage manager for Raggamuffin.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born near Liverpool in the United Kingdom. I travelled to New Zealand on holiday back in 2003 but after two months ended up settling here. I married a beautiful Kiwi girl in 2008 and we have two furry kids (dogs). I enjoy mountainbiking in the Redwoods, fishing, golf, walking the afore mentioned furry kids and eating breakfast at Cafe de Paris.
How long have you been the food and beverage manager for Raggamuffin?
This is my fourth Raggamuffin that I have run. However, I was involved in the first one, we have come a long way since 2008. Opening up the back field for all the bars and food vendors in 2009 was a great idea, giving us heaps more room and allowing for the second stage we have had for the last couple of years.
What does the job involve?
It is extremely busy. At the start of the week all the field gets marked out and the chiller containers arrive. Over the next few days all the marquees are set up, the dressing rooms for the artists are made ready, all the product arrives and the food vendors are put in place. We have staff briefings and training for a couple of nights and then the actual event. The planning for Raggamuffin starts at the end of the last one.
What do you do the rest of the year?
I am also an area manager and am responsible for another 11 sites spread from Tauranga to Napier/Hastings. Over the last few years my main work has been at the Energy Event Centre and Rotorua International Stadium. I have a new food and beverage manager, Igor Maximov for the events centre and stadium who is experiencing his first Raggamuffin this year and will be running it next year and beyond.
What other events have you been the food and beverage manager for?
The stand out event of the last few years would have to be Rugby World Cup which opened up a whole new level of planning unlike any I have done before. Other memorable events would have to include the TRENZ conferences, the Magic netball games, Kolohe Kai concert, the ITM rugby games and looking after Prince Andrew. Every year at the Events Centre we look after numerous conferences, trade shows, award dinners, concerts, sporting events. One of the reasons I love the job so much is the huge variety of events I look after.
What has been your best Raggamuffin?
The best Raggamuffin is always my last Raggamuffin. Every year you find little ways of making things that bit better/easier from the previous year's concert. It is great to see many more Kiwi bands with the second stage and I must admit any year with Ali Campbell performing is a bonus.
What is the best part of being the Raggamuffin food and beverage manager?
Working with my awesome team is probably the highlight for me. A lot of my staff have also been involved since 2008 and they make me very proud. Working with the fantastic team from Events and Venues is also a big plus as well as the promoters and crew. Getting to meet internationally acclaimed artists and celebrity guests is pretty cool.
What do you find most challenging about the role?
The job demands extremely long hours at times but I know I will get it back in the quieter periods. Making sure that people have a great time while ensuring that we control people's alcohol intakes can be a challenge but generally the crowd at Raggamuffin are very well behaved and we have minimum issues. You really need to be able to think on your feet as you can guarantee that something unexpected will happen. One of the unusual challenges is trying to source some of the artists requests for their dressing rooms, I cannot divulge what they are but it makes you wonder.
Tell us three things about yourself that most people wouldn't know.
I once spent half an hour locked in an office with David Beckham who was trying to run away from a mob of excited fanatical women. He's a cool guy considering he was a United player.
I have four cats. However, one kind of lives here and one's almost dead so it's five on a good day or three to four in days to come.
Last year I left my Christmas tree up all year because it looks cool... it's still up now.