First Round: Rhubarb drives to Goodwood

Rhubarb and Goodwood is not the name of a long forgotten seventies folk band, but a tie-up between an ECI Partners-backed event catering company rhubarb (small r) and the home of motor racing and fancy dress, Goodwood Estate.

The caterer has won a £60 million ($93 million; €82 million) contract to stuff the faces of attendees at events staged at the West Sussex venue, including the Goodwood Revival, the Qatar Goodwood Festival and First Round’s favourite, the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

That’s not a bad result for ECI, which three years ago invested £12 million into the company that promises to offer something “deliciously different”. ECI’s capital covered a significant minority stake and expansion capital.

And it’s good news for those that like nothing better than scoffing posh grub surrounded by 12,000 acres of parkland in the company of hundreds of thousands of their best friends, and assailed by the roar of Goodwood Greats, such as the Ferrari 312P Berlinetta that showed its curves this year.

(Incidentally, the theme for the June 2015 speed meet was “Flat-Out and Fearless”, which First Round suspects is a fundraising motto for many a PE firm.)

Anyway. Back to the catering. No less than Lord March, who manages the Goodwood Estate Company, commented on rhubarb’s appointment, which begins next March: “We chose rhubarb as I felt the passion for what they do, their attention to detail and their people really set them apart from the competition. I am excited by the fresh ideas they can bring to our key events and the support they will provide in moving the overall experience forward.”

The company, which was founded in 2006, says it will offer “quintessentially English dishes using local produce from the Goodwood Farm wherever possible”. Perhaps the clue is in the name. First Round will have custard with its crumble please.

And if motor racing is not your thing, other English venues where rhubarb plies its fayre include the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, the Royal Albert Hall, Heathrow terminals three and five and London City Airport.