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Gundega Skudrina: Adults also need to play

Gundega Skudrina, Director of the creative group “Skudras Metrople”, event producer and designer, host of the popular culinary TV show, talks about her new project.


- In Latvia you are a leader of opinions in several areas – events, catering, gastronomy. You were a host of cooking show “You're a Foodie!” and now you are well known because of the popular program “Breakfast” on TV channel LNT. How does it affect your business in event industry?

- You know, I work in our industry as an events producer for almost 15 years. During this time I have had many diverse projects, but historically it came out that one direction suited us more than others. In other worlds, my team fell in love with gastronomy. And I must admit, that never before I’ve seen such a surge, such a rise of interest to that sphere, as now. Today culinary events enjoy great success and demand.

As for advertising on TV or radio. Yes, I am a recognizable person in our country, but even TV can not be compared in strength and in speed with social networks. "Word of mouth" has always been a powerful channel of advertising and promotion, and today social networks perform its functions. The information there applies with incredible speed. News travels so fast that we simply do not have time to reply to everyone. We have not been able to invite all of our potential guests to our projects. So you can judge it yourself: tickets for our gastronomic performances are quite expensive (100 euros, for example), but they redeem for half an hour, maximum an hour. That’s it: the projects are really popular.


- And what projects do you actually mean? Indeed, in different cases you will use different formats, am I right?

- Of course, the projects have very different. The incarnation always depends on the client's goals, audience for which the event is held. There are traditional festivals and there are experimental show. In general we can identify four key areas in our activities.

The first is public events (e.g. food festivals). In July the administration of one Latvian city asked for our assistance in a large event dedicated to the celebration of the anniversary of this ancient town. They decided to make a food festival, because not so long ago Latvia received the status of one of the leading gastronomic regions in Europe. Our team was responsible for the entire gastronomy sphere. We were lucky to greet more than 15,000 people. This, of course, is a very special format of the event and preparation for it, when at the forefront are questions of logistics, safety of guests and property (not the artistic component and directing, for example, like in our new unique projects).


The second is the event for business (corporate or promotional, various presentations, launches, where you just have to make unconventional food, some wow catering). The third is a gastronomic performances in unusual locations (outdoor - for example, on the shores of a scenic lake, – and indoor -  for example, in castles or even in the factories, in the old hangars, etc.). Speaking generally – it is a kind of cultural action with exclusive tickets, in which the art object is the food itself and the process of artistic cooking.


And last but not least is our know-how, our new wow-idea – so-called “pop up café” or "café with rules". This is the event in a special café for an narrow audience where you need to preregister, get reservation somehow because we can invite only up to 30 people at a time.


- What does "café rules" mean?

- Rules exist in every game, and our pop up cafe is a sort of culinary game. "Café with rules" means that all of our guests must eat food and taste drinks as it is conceived by the organizers. If we tell you that you can try the soup of frog legs only when artificial frogs in our artificial pond croak, it should be just as it is. If you need to decorate dessert from the chef in honor of the flowering magnolias with sugar drops that are earned in one way or another game, then you may be sure: you need to participate in this game. If you must eat snacks in the mask of squirrel and hot meals – in the mask of a tiger, then let it be. And so on.

The main rule is to follow the rules. Pop up cafe is not a traditional restaurant where you can order any dish and sit as long as you like. It's a game, it is a carefully conceived and orchestrated show, strictly limited by time, by activities, by tasks and goals. In this tiny gastronomic event every detail is tailored to the general idea - the menu, the invitation, the program. During your lunch or dinner there may be artists on stage. And the staff may be involved in the game. The waiters may appear to be singers, dancers, artists painting sketches and people who lead the workshops. Anything can happen. This is the main highlight of these cafes.


- And what is the demand for these activities?

- Our event guests need to pre-register. And if you try to do it late, usually there are no places to several dates forward. You can estimate it yourself: we have 8 tables, the show lasts for 1.5 hours and on average we can afford to put on 6 receptions a day. So you can see that the service is at its peak of popularity. I think this is because adults also want to play. And we give them that opportunity. They don't need to leave these feelings of excitement and surprises in their childhood, they don't need to abandon them. And in the game each one learns something new about himself. However, often we give the guests some new knowledge and skills in the framework of invented activities purposefully. Nowadays young people love to learn. Especially in the form of a game.

On top of these events – excellent communication, networking training or just a way to meet interesting people and have a bright, unique experience. At Christmas we had an absolute rush job, because during the holidays everyone wants something really new, unusual, slightly crazy and absolutely wonderful! We asked all the guests of Christmas shows to bring a gift and to presented it at the end of a dinner to someone special. All people danced, sang, laughed and hugged. And it turned out to be the real spirit of Christmas.


- What are the plans for the development of this direction? Maybe it makes sense to think of a more mass popular format? The festival, as an option?

- Festivals for a large number of visitors is a very complex story. In addition, this format implies an individual approach and attention to each guest separately. It seems to me, that it must be the chamber reception. The element of involving masses will only hurt such an idea. For this reason our task now is simply to create beautiful projects. So beautiful that they could drew all the attention. Including attention from other countries. We are open to any partnership proposals: we can just sell the concept and "mechanics" or we can do joint projects. I can ensure the relevance of services. And I suppose that everyone can be interested in such projects: restaurants, agencies, private entrepreneurs, chef themselves. We will be happy to share experience and good mood. This is a great original and funny project that will appeal for organizers themselves first of all. Just don’t forget that all adults need to play too!


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