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Matt Dawson played for 15 years in the most successful England rugby squad ever. After winning Celebrity Masterchef in 2007, he shot to prime-time prominence and now captains a team on A Question of Sport. As part of his charity work, he has recently designed the menu for The Co-operative ‘Be Inspired’ Dinner for the Activate Sport Foundation (activatesport.co.uk/foundation).
The party after the 2003 Rugby World Cup final in Sydney was epic – it went on for about three days. We started in a bar called Cargo in Darling Harbour with Prince Harry playing the drums. There was all sorts of random dancing before we watched the sun come up a day or so later.
It has to be Tuffers [Phil Tufnell, fellow captain on A Question of Sport]; he’s such good value, always great fun to be around. Any of the old rugby boys are a good giggle – Jason Leonard and Mark Cueto in particular. It doesn’t matter where you go, if you hang around with those guys, you know there’ll be some fun.
The best sports hospitality I’ve had is at Royal Ascot; they do it fantastically well. The whole atmosphere: excitement around the betting, people-watching and dressing up – everyone looking as ridiculous as the next person but still thinking they look normal – is great fun. The food’s always top drawer and the Champagne flows.
I’ve been really lucky to go to lots of nice hotels, but the one that stands out is the W in Hong Kong: the service is first class, the food
is awesome and the rooms are the absolute best. It’s in a great part of town, too, so it’s perfect for sightseeing.
The purest food I’ve had is from Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road – I was blown away by each and every mouthful.
I love the Japanese mojito from Nobu. It uses vodka instead of rum and a combination of shiso leaves and mint.
Best of the Best
For the ultimate party, I’d take a close group of family and friends to a Caribbean island. On the guest list would be 20 of my best pals, my missus’ mates and some of the guys I grew up playing rugby with. Tuffers might get the nod too, but only if there’s space.
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events Autumn 2011.