Like many of his peers, 2020’s forced hiatus from life on the road gave Lighting Crew Chief, Keith Parrott the time to develop an idea he’d held onto for a few years. Speaking to TPi, the lighting specialist outlined what he had been cooking up while in lockdown – pun very much intended.
“I’ve worked in the industry for over 15 years and throughout my time, like many others, I have worked those shows, be it a corporate gig or a festival, where you simply don’t have the facilities to get a drink or a bite to eat – either due to catering not being available or being based in a venue that is away from any shops or restaurants,” he began.
“The idea really solidified in my mind while working on a show in London,” reflected Parrott. “There isn’t really much around, so we made a trip to Tesco and bought a coffee machine and a toastie maker.” Once the makeshift kitchen was set up, Parrott couldn’t help but think that there should be a service that catered for this very need; a portable food and drinks station that could be used by crew as and when they needed.
Almost a year later and Parrott proudly unveiled The Roadie Kitchen. The company now offers two fully roadworthy portable setups – the Original and the Compact. Each unit has been designed to fit through any standard single doorway with a discrete footprint, making it ideal for any touring setup. The flagship original station comes complete with a total of 10 appliances you would usually find in most household kitchens offering a wide range of meals and dishes to be made onsite. Each station also includes a basic consumables starter pack, which contains disposable wooden cutlery, cups, plates, bowls and napkins. This ensures you are all set to go on your first day of hire.
“As well as offering a neat addition to the touring crew’s setup, these packages really help to improve crew welfare when the industry opens back up,” stated Parrott. “I didn’t start The Roadie Kitchen to compete with or replace traditional catering, but the simple fact is that catering teams do not work around the clock – and nor should they. However, there is a need for there to be something to help keep the crew going during those long hours while loading a show.”
The Lighting Crew Chief outlined his prime case study to explain the need for this type of service – namely, the annual EDM gathering that is Creamfields. “As there are no bands at the festival, there is even more pressure on the production of that event to make the weekend a spectacular,” he said. “It’s a hard seven days, so having a space where a crewmember can take five minutes to grab a drink or something to eat could really change that person’s day. An addition to the rider of one of our units could go a long way to improving the overall crew’s health and wellbeing.”
Parrott admitted that prior to working on The Roadie Kitchen, he had little to no knowledge of the hospitality and catering side of the market, but he brought the same technical precision from his lighting background into the development of both packages. “I didn’t want there to be multiple versions of the units before we launched and wanted to have full faith in our product from day one,” he stated.
Collaborating with local supplier BCS Manufacturing, Parrott was involved every step of the way to ensure each one of the flight cases was to the highest spec as well as getting advice from fellow crew members as to what they would like to see in such an offering. The hard work clearly paid off and despite the live events industry not fully opening up, several of The Roadie Kitchen units have already started to clock up the road miles, being used by the production team from Cradle of Filth, TesseracT and Nothing but Thieves.
Parrott is yet another crewmember that during this time has shown real entrepreneurial spirit in these times of hardship. He cited fellow lighting crewmember, Tom Campbell’s STNDBY clothing brand as inspiration for his own venture [see TPi December 2020].
“Tom saw a gap in the market and already has seen success, and likewise, I feel The Roadie Kitchen has the ability to benefit everyone in a production.” He was also keen to thank all those from the industry that had already shown their support thus far in his endeavour.
Parrott is currently holding down another temporary job with Rolls-Royce as he awaits patiently for the industry to reopen. “Once everything opens up, I’m looking forward to hitting the road again while also keeping The Roadie Kitchen going.”
He concluded by stating how he expected there to still be tough times ahead where stretched budgets may create some challenges for both production and crew, but he hopes The Roadie Kitchen might go some way to changing working conditions for the better.
This article originally appeared in issue #261 of TPi, which you can read here.