Entertain Like A Pro this New Years Eve

Dishing up deliciousness with catering and events experts Alistair Hugo

Time to start brushing up on your Auld Lang Syne as the most exciting night of the year is almost upon us. Catering experts Alistair Hugo talk TOAST through their recipe for success and give us their top tips on entertaining like a pro this New Years Eve; it’s time to wave goodbye to the old and welcome in the new, and what better way to spend it than with good food and close friends?

Out with the old and in with the new – New Year’s Eve is always an exciting time to entertain. Spirits are high and there is no better way of seeing in 2017 than with some scrumptious food and a home filled with good friends.

Speaking of good friends; Alistair Shaw and Hugo Mauthner, founders of catering and events company Alistair Hugo (see what they did there?) met whilst sharing a dorm room at boarding school at the tender age of just 11. Alistair went on to travel the world whilst working for a multitude of catering and exclusive events companies here and aboard. Hugo went on to be a chef; first in a commercial kitchen whilst living in Japan, before going on to graduate from Westminster College with a two-year professional chef’s diploma and becoming Tom Conran’s Head Chef for four years. The pair have been busy, but it wasn’t long before they decided used their complementary talents and hatch a plan together.

Aged 27 we both needed a change in direction and were keen to do our own thing” explains Alistair. "We planned the business in a pub in NW London in 2000 and raced around town in a yellow mini looking for a kitchen, ideas and equipment! We had a lot of luck at the beginning, we found a space with a shell of a kitchen and some existing catering equipment in place, a friendly landlord who didn’t charge us rent for 3 months, but best of all the owner of the company who fitted out the kitchen with extraction, ovens, etc. had a bit of a mid life crisis and disappeared to Jamaica, so we didn’t receive an invoice for six months! We managed to pick up a big company Christmas party and used the deposit to buy our chopping boards, knifes, pots & pans, etc…and we were off!” 

AH Salmon

AH Roast Beef

AH Lemon Dessert

These days Alistair and Hugo, or should I say Alistair Hugo, can cater almost anything; from canapé receptions, to sit-down 3 course dinners, weddings and parties to all day events for product launches and VIP pop ups. Not only that, but they have also gained a reputation as London’s leading, high-end office caterer, regularly providing luxury breakfasts, bento boxes and buffet lunches to some of the city’s most high powered businesses.

At the beginning, we thought we would be doing mainly events” explains Alistair, “But we fell into doing office lunches and soon realized that it was a big market that was perfect for our small blossoming business, and now I honestly believe that we provide some of the best food and choice for the business catering market. We also do big weddings and private parties, which are always lots of fun, but often the hardest work!

“I’ll always remember doing the The Queen’s Golden Jubilee at Buckingham Palace. We worked under a big touring caterer who got the gig for the week, and it was so much fun heading into the gardens each morning - there was such a great buzz about the place. We watched the bands rehearse whilst we dished up hundreds of meals a day!”

So business is booming for the talented duo, but their current success is the result of a lot of hard graft indeed.

“Originally we did everything ourselves - the two of us would turn up at 5am prep and cook the food, head off delivering, return do some washing up and a bit of admin then onto a second job. finish at midnight and then be back at our little kitchen for 5am again! At the weekends we would head into town and drop postcards through every door we could find, then go home and sleep!’

Business picked up quickly and soon the team expanded and today they have 35 part time and permanent members of staff as well extra event staff, but even now with a large, talented team behind them Alistair and Hugo remains hands on, with Hugo overseeing the kitchen and Alistair running the business.

Alistair Hugo

As directors we have to be dedicated to the cause and set the highest standards and example to our workforce - it’s like being part of the army, willing and able to drop everything and anything at a moments notice! We really feel it’s all about offering a high level of quality, presentation and consistency alongside reliable and positive customer service experience.

Another vital ingredient of Alistair Hugo’s success is, well, their ingredients, all of which are well researched, appraised, and thoroughly tried and tested before being used in any of their menus. This year, they were awarded a Soil Association Food for Life Catering Mark, an independent endorsement awarded to caterers who are taking steps to improve their food through meeting standards on nutrition, freshness, sustainability and animal welfare.

We only use the best and freshest produce sourced from London’s main markets and reputable suppliers,” adds Alistair. “Some are local, some have come from afar but all are welcomed into our kitchen where we make everything from start to finish with desire and tenderness!

The man at the helm of the Alistair Hugo kitchen, chef Hugo Mauthner, has created a fantastic 3-course New Years Eve menu exclusively for TOAST readers – you can find it, along with his expert advice for entertaining at home, over on TheEdit now. But before you go - read on for Alistair’s top tips for entertaining like a pro this NYE. 

Alistair’s top tips for entertaining like a pro this New Year's Eve

  • Welcome drinks. Make a great cocktail to serve to guests on arrival, or Hugo recommends a glass of elegant fizz in the form of Nyetimber crisp English sparkling wine available from Waitrose

  • Consider a caterer. Of course the best though not the cheapest thing to do is book a caterer (although we are closed between 24 December - 3 January!) - take a look at some other options on TOAST's Little Black Book. 

  • Plan and prep ahead. Plan an effective but simple menu and try to do as much food preparation in advance. Some dishes can even be made days in advance and frozen!

  • Presentation power. Buy or hire in some decent/fun glassware and serving platters to make your table look great. Take a look at Tina Nisson Designs for inspiration. 

  • Service with a smile. Even if you don’t have a caterer I would always advise getting in some proper event staff to serve drinks.

For more information about Alistair Hugo or to book them for your next event, check out their listing in TOAST’s Little Black Book.  


Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 24 December 2016

  catering, dinner party tips , new years eve

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