Glynn Woodin is the founder of Mustard Catering. His flair for entertaining came to light at university. He claims it was starvation-driven: “All my money was going on hunting and showjumping, so I learnt to cook and entertained at home. I loved it and became known for my interesting parties.”
He went into banking and joined the Stock Exchange in 1977. “It was rivetingly exciting,” he recalls, “but really I was looking for what I’m doing now. I have a fascination for food and organisation.” He revolutionised London’s high-end catering sector and took Mustard to the top, catering at venues across London, including The Royal Academy, The Wallace Collection and the V&A.
Three dozen years later he is enjoying semi retirement. Mustard Catering was sold to Kofler & Kompanie at the end of 2016, but Glynn still keeps a hand in Mustard Foods, a side of the business which supplies food to over 400 selected restaurants around London.
Tessa Packard [TP]: Why did you make the decision to move from banking into the catering and entertainment industry?
Glynn Woodin [GW]: Instinct.
[TP]: How would you describe the brand DNA of Mustard Catering?
[GW]: Excellence and style.
[TP]: Using only one word per decade, how would you describe the entertaining style of the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s?
[GW]: 70’s: crude, 80’s: fun & extravagant, 90’s: stylish, 00’s: modern and dull.
[TP]: What have been the most popular catering trends of the last ten years, and what dishes do you now never see requested by your clients?
[GW]: Lighter modern British food is still very much in demand. You never see heavy cream sauces these days.
[TP]: What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your 40 years in the business?
[GW]: Keeping staff service up to standard.
[TP]: What has been the most absurd or challenging request you have received at Mustard Catering, and were you able to fulfil it?
[GW]: We once organised a picnic for an elephant – complete with buns with no seeds and bananas with no skins on.
[TP]: What is the best advice you’ve ever given?
[GW]: “Hold your nerve” and “It’s going all be alright on the night”.
[TP]: If money were no object, and anything was possible, what would be your dream party? Where would it take place? What would you be eating and drinking? And who would attend, dead or alive?
[PM]: In a tent in a country field with an exposed kitchen and chefs doing performance food on view. Guests – Lord John Sainsbury, Sir Roy Strong, Dame Vivien Duffield, Lady Helen Hamlyn and Sir and Lady Bamford.
[TP]: What is on your bucket list of things to do and places to see?
[GW]: Opera houses around the world and tennis opens.
[TP]: And finally, what in your opinion is the one thing that needs to change in the food or catering industry?
[GW]: More professional staff – nobody trains to be a butler anymore.
ON THE SPOT
Town or Countryside? Countryside
Favourite city? London
Your perfect dinner guest, dead or alive? Joan Sutherland
If you could time travel to any era it would be…? The 1990’s
The best meal you’ve ever eaten is? At La Gavroche
The one essential you can’t leave home without? My mobile phone
Pet hate? Pre-poured water
Favourite book? “Red Notice” by Bill Browder
Biggest extravagance: My recent trip to India
What would your gravestone read? “I tried harder”
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