This week the Woodingdean in Business Spotlight is On Marc Bolger, Director and Head Chef at Circa Events.
I started cooking when I was 14 years old. My parents used to have restaurants and nightclubs in Devon, where I grew up, and I would wash up and do a bit of cooking there. I went on to do an intense catering course for 5 years at college. That’s how it all started.
Circa started in 2000. It began as a restaurant in Lewes and when it opened it caused quite a stir because it was different. We were doing Asian fusion and we received a lot of national press coverage from all the top observer magazines. Subsequently we opened a fish restaurant called Circa Fish, and then we took over a Lewes Hotel from 2004-2008. My business partner then went on to do other things and I continued on the Circa brand. I moved to a Bevendean farm, built a kitchen and offices there and started in the wedding industry.
We provide our clients with a bespoke service. With some wedding venues you go in and you are told “this is what’s happening, this is how things are done here” but with us the client can put their own stamp on the venue. We work closely with the client because everybody is different. Trust and building a relationship with your clients is the most important part. There’s a lot of information around a wedding, so it’s that personal connection that makes the difference.
There is so much social media presence of weddings now, especially on Instagram, where people get in touch because they’ve seen something on social media that they like, which is a great tool for us.
It goes far beyond the catering service – we can recommend suppliers, set the venue up, supply everything clients need, all the linen, crockery, the staff. We’ve got lots of suppliers that we work with that we can recommend to clients to make sure all their needs are met.
We use as many local suppliers as we can. And we always look for experienced and local staff. We don’t tend to go out of Sussex because there are loads of people doing what we do, so we just try and keep within our perimeter. It ties it in better with us. My mindset is to keep it as local as we can and remain busy, which we definitely are at the moment.
We support local business as much as possible. Our business is based in Woodingdean and I have lived here myself for 8-9 years. But I’d like to get more involved with groups and potentially offering deals for them.
We have just taken over the Round Georges pub in Kemptown, Brighton. We’re doing nice, simple pub food at a reasonable price. It’s important to us to get the price range right. You can go for a roast with your family and the kids get a free Boho Gelato afterwards. It’s a busy, pleasant, family friendly environment. Boho Gelato is a unique Brighton based Italian ice cream parlour that produces a wide variety of handmade and original ice cream and sorbets.
I would like to continue to do more work in Brighton. There are a couple of venues in Brighton with which we are just getting our foot in the door, so hopefully that will change. I think if we got into the scene in Brighton we would develop the business more around that, because it is a bit more radical, maybe not as pre-booked as what we are at the moment.
What distinguishes us from other catering and events companies is our food. The reputation that Circa have for our food, because we’ve been running since 2000, the restaurant background really backs up what we can do. Our menus are amazing and we offer flexibility.
We are constantly changing things. We’ve got a couple of new vehicles that we offer now as well. We’ve got a Circa Pizza Truck which is a cattle wagon and the only one of its kind in the country. Saturday night was our first job out with it and it was amazing. We’ve got some gelato bikes, hotdog carts and burger vans that can turn into noodle bars! We’ve got all these things that just offer the clients a bit more.
What I do is such a rewarding job. This industry is crazy but I love doing it. It’s my passion. Passion is what makes one chef better than another chef.
To find out more about Circa Events visit their website:
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Marc spoke to Siobhan Wight.
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