Congratulations to whoever listened to the raft of complaints from all sides after the disastrous launch of the Food Hall at this year’s Royal Welsh Show. The layout was changed from it’s corridor style to smaller sectors and those with outside stands were turned inwards giving them a better outlook than staring at a breeze black wall. In July, the ice-cream stands, which used to be just outside the hall with a decked area, were brought inside, so there were 56 stands in the new Food Hall. Now this building was specifically designed as a Food Hall to hold 60 stands, but somewhere the sums have gone wrong or been ignored and it’s certainly not a great building for the cost of £1.6m. The main problem is how the contractors/designer have installed the electric points which then govern and restrict where stands can be sited. The Food Hall is a barn of a place, just a single floor, although I could see one first floor room on one side. Maybe the money had run out by then, but it’s still a huge disappointment for such a huge investment and what should be the perfect setting for Wales to showcase its fabulous food.
Just to recap, at the Winter Fair there were 44 stands, arranged differently to the Royal Welsh and for the most part working well. As always some producers didn’t have a good site for the products they were selling, but maybe the onus is with the producers and for them to ask if they can be put in a specific area, I can’t see why not, because if you don’t ask, you are not going to get are you? A few stands doing hot-food-to-go, were down at the bottom of the hall and it might have been a good idea if these could have been grouped together nearer the front of the hall to encourage more people to use the Food Hall for their lunch, instead of the many mobile vans that seemed to be doing a brisk trade. Of course I’m aware that they pay for their stands too, but not all were selling Welsh food and it made me chuckle passing one of them selling Welsh Black beef – as their Show Special Offer was bacon butties!
I was pleased to see there were a small number of chairs and tables in the Food Hall, not sure if it was an after-thought, but it was welcomed, albeit stuck rather too close to the gents to make it a really enjoyable experience!
My final query is that there were many, many display units all over the Food Hall, allowing visitors the opportunity to collect their free copy of the latest True Taste book, but why alongside the True Taste books at these ‘multi display units’ were there copies of Welsh Rarebits and Great Little Places? Has Welsh Assembly Government, WAG Food bought the company out or just doing them a favour? I have just gone on the rarebits website and all I can find is a list of winners for 2009/10, maybe I should tell them we now have the winners for 2010/11……..