Executive Chef Simon Mason: Why EventCity shops local for produce

EventCity’s Executive Chef Simon Mason proudly heads up The Kitchen – an in-house facility that specialises in tailored and bespoke food and beverage options for a variety of palates. Practising a ‘field to fork’ philosophy, conference bookers can feel assured that the healthy, seasonal produce served by The Kitchen has a proudly local provenance.

In our latest insight, Simon reveals why – having worked away in London and the South – he has made Manchester his home: “I was born in Leigh, just up the road from EventCity. When I’ve worked away, I always come back to Manchester because I like the North. Places I grew up in and team members I’ve worked with are from around here, as well as suppliers and people in the industry – all of which benefits EventCity’s customers.”

The Cheadle resident adds that he likes his ‘rural areas and greenery’, but that he is also passionate about the city. “Manchester is up and coming; there’s a lot of opportunities arising. Businesses are coming up North from London due to price increases so they can get value for money, as well as for the creativity and expertise we can offer them. There’s a bigger buzz in Manchester than there was six or seven years ago, whether it’s at our event space, or in TRAFFORDCITY’s leisure facilities, retail environment, restaurants and bars; it really is the place to be.”

On that subject, Simon is clear where he prefers to cook – favouring rising to the challenge of creating bespoke food and beverage menus for the North’s largest conference venue: “In restaurants, it can be a bit mundane – using set menus and knowing it all inside out – but every day is a new day at EventCity; I get to use new produce all the time. We work with clients’ briefs to understand their needs, which then allows us to be creative. From edible dinosaur eggs to glow-in-the-dark food, we have done it all – and I welcome a challenging brief from a client!”

Simon’s philosophy of using local produce from local growers is rooted in being conscious of where ingredients and materials are sourced. “EventCity believe in me and what the team and I do,” he says. “As a company, we believe in supporting the smaller suppliers, as they buy from the local industries and farmers, whereas other companies tend to import their produce in bulk due to cost implications. Also, local suppliers employ local people, which is better because there’s less food miles and, therefore, less of a carbon footprint. Items aren’t being sent from across the world by a plane, and I do believe the produce is better as a result.

‘At the end of the day, it’s all about community spirit. Working with local suppliers benefits the local area and Manchester as a whole; we really care about our community!”

To continue to offer EventCity customers new taste experiences, Simon and his team work hard to nurture a good relationship with local suppliers.

“When it’s quiet here, we will nip down there and go and have a meal with them, or go and have a look round the warehouse,” he explains. “The small suppliers are especially good at giving us information on what’s coming up and what’s in season within the local community – what’s good, what’s not – in order to introduce the best seasonal ingredients. In my experience, you receive a more personal, bespoke service with a smaller company.”

Working with the same local producers ensures a consistent level of quality that Simon says he is proud to put his name to. “Having known each other for years, they know my expectations and what I like; it’s all about working together, whether it’s to do with pricing or sourcing local products. In that sense, I feel lucky.”