– Food, glorious food – CU21’s culinary delights –

Ian Curwenby Ian Curwen

Lots of people are going to blog, or post, or tweet about how good Comms Unplugged 2021 was.

I could do that too.

I could mention the amazing workshops on behaviour change and wellbeing communications, or the powerful keynote speech on ‘the joy of work’ by Bruce Daisley, or even the fantastic networking opportunities and conversations in the margins, which help me understand other people’s experiences

But then who would talk about the food?

Given that’s as much of a passion of mine as communications is, it’d be a shame to miss the opportunity to flag one of the other positives of this most special of events.

Anyone attending Comms Unplugged is provided with meals to keep their brains active and to fuel the wellbeing activities and extra-curricular events that pack the timetable.CU21 Bigger Bites breakfast

From the hot breakfast sandwiches, to charcoal cooked Neapolitan pizzas, the choices are varied. Yet they’re consistently of a high standard and are always warmly welcomed by the eager audience.

Comms Unplugged takes place over three days, and this means you get two breakfasts, two evening meals and three lunches to keep you going. That’s before you even mention the sensational coffee from jubilant James.

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant many changes to Comms Unplugged. These started with the 2021 event being postponed, and lateral flow tests for all attendees. But another consequence was that many of the previous caterers have ceased trading – finding careers elsewhere.

Despite this, 2022’s food remained a high point, with other Dorset-based caterers stepping in to offer their delights. The change meant that more caterers were used than in the past, with each offering a delicious meal and a warm smile to even the most eccentric of requests (my breakfast bun choice of real bacon and veggie sausage certainly provoked a smile in Friday morning’s queue).

Catering for large numbers is no easy task, so it was impressive to see just how well it was done, in a field, with limited amenities.

CU21 Hungry Mule paellaThursday evening started with generous portions of warming paella (veggie and meat versions were offered), accompanied by fresh, inventive salads and boutique bread. In many cases, it was washed down by beakers of red wine provided by the diners themselves.

Friday night is now, famously, pizza night and it never disappoints. The huge flames licking the top of the oven, and the queue at the counter for the eat-as-much-as-you-like offerings are an indication of why that is.CU21 Fiery Fox pizza

When you reach the front, you’re offered a choice of six, piping hot, bubbling pizzas. The slices – or triangles of joy, with varied and unexpected toppings, mark the start of Friday evening’s entertainment.

When you add a trio of delicious lunches, including a lovely little picnic from a local bakery, you know you’re on to a winner.

That’s before you even consider the treats each of the campers has brought with them. For us, in 2021, it was a mix of charcuterie, cheese (including a brilliant Tesco blue goats’ cheese) and the obligatory sharing bags of crisps.

So, with the food, the learning, the catching up and the unplugging, all in all, it was a pretty decent weekend. Fancy it? We’ll in that case I’ll #CUinthefield in 2022.

For the record, the 2021 caterers were:

  • Thursday paella: Hungry Mule
  • Friday Breakfast: Bigger Bites Dorset
  • Friday lunch: Patrick’s Bournemouth
  • Friday pizza: The Fiery Fox
  • Saturday breakfast: Jurassic Catering
  • Cakes: Allstar Sports Bar and Cafe
  • Thursday and Saturday lunches: Good ol’ Tesco!

Ian Curwen is Corporate Affairs Officer at Sellafield Ltd and lives in beautiful Cumbria. He joined the merry band of #unpluggers in 2019 and also writes a blog featuring lost of foodie posts: The Only Man in the Room. Say hi to him on Twitter and Instagram.