Managing Director Julian Saipe, in conversation

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In the spotlight this month, ex-opera singer and Zafferano MD, Julian Saipe talks about performance, summer parties, and being a relaxed guest.


You’ve had an unrivalled perspective watching Zafferano develop and grow since its foundation, what stands out the most for you?

The quality of our product has grown in strength throughout Zafferano’s development. We have always strived for amazing food and incredible design and we are getting better and better at it!  Also, the ever-growing talent in our team has led us to greater heights.

Has the events catering market changed over the last twenty years? If so how has Zafferano adapted?

Yes, dramatically. There are more suppliers than ever in what has become a saturated industry. We will always sell by service, but also, to win the game, we have invested heavily in our brand.

Other Zafferano colleagues have cited ‘Performance’ as a key company buzzword, what does it mean to you and what does it communicate about the work Zafferano does?

Performance means creating a food and event experience that makes an impact on our audience and leaves them feeling better. Performance is about our people fulfilling their potential. Performance means our A-list clientele, from luxury car brands to the arts and show-biz, and also our venues which are our great stages. This is our unique world and we are very proud of our point of difference.

Do you feel your background in the performing arts has been an influencing factor in this new approach?

Absolutely, I sang as an opera singer in the greatest theatres including the Royal Opera House and the London Coliseum. Opera is a rich multi-layered art form that brings together music, great singers, drama, emotion, design, and stage management of epic proportions. To bring some of this depth and complexity to our own work is our intention.

What can we expect from Zafferano as we look forward to summer?

Beautiful menus, lyrical flavours, theatrical desserts, lime green, dusky pinks, and a sunny team.

‘Added value’ has become a popular phrase across the events industry, how does Zafferano ‘add value’ to an event?

People! From our event planners to our Wolseley-style butlers who serve dinner, we are absolutely on it. The very best service at every level.

What frustrates you most about the events and catering industry?

The speed at which we have to turn things around. The lead times are nerve-wrackingly short – we always pull it off with style, but I come from a background where you normally rehearse for weeks before the opening night – nowadays we are expected to do anything at the drop of a hat.

What has been your proudest moment/highlight event in your time at Zafferano?

There have been so many. Launching our new logo, winning awards, creating some unique event experiences. We catered a very important dinner at the National Gallery last year and I was also a guest hosting a table; I was very proud of our fabulous food and service, the event looked stunning, and I felt quite relaxed at the same time.