Let It Shine: Knebworth goes the whole hog this summer!

Corporate clients can go the whole hog – and enjoy all the fun of the fair this summer – at Knebworth House.

The iconic venue is opening its 250 acre grounds to businesses looking for some summer party fun or a team building event with a difference.

The team at the venue have created a range of special packages for social and business guests to enjoy including everything from street food and hog roasts to fairground rides and “It’s a Knockout” style games.

A basic Summer Party BBQ option is on offer which includes hire of the Cobbold barn and garden in Knebworth’s grounds, a barbecue, giant garden games and access to Knebworth Park, Gardens, the adventure playground and the dinosaur trail.

Alternatively, those looking to do something that little bit different for a company away day or family fun day can opt for specialist packages which include full catering and event organising services, guided tours of Knebworth House and Gardens and a huge range of fun activities including inflatables, fairgrounds rides, school sports day-style races and motorised activities.

Knebworth Kart

Knebworth Kart

Hog roasts are also available during the summer months for parties of 100 guests or more and make a great alternative to BBQ’s or street food options.

All you need then is good weather but no worries if not – there is plenty of space inside if you need to take cover!

For further information about special summer packages at Knebworth House or at other venues within our portfolio visit: http://bit.ly/2slp5bn

Download our Let It Shine guide with more venues and ideas for summer on this blog too!

Let It Shine! Summer 2017 with Prestige Venue & Events

View our Let It Shine brochure for Summer ’17

We’re getting into the spirit of summer with a new venue guide that highlights the very best of this sweetest, steamiest season.

Prestige Venues & Events present summer packages and events for business and leisure alike; from family fun days and team building activities, to outdoor dining and English garden parties.

Our Let It Shine guide focuses on offers from May to September at outstanding venues, such as The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Brighton’s state-of-the-art Amex Stadium, and includes hospitality packages for iconic British events, like Royal Ascot, Jardin Blanc at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show and The Open Championship.

Our chefs have created menus that embrace the summer and use colourful, seasonal produce. With barbecues and hog roasts available to private hire guests at Knebworth House, as well as the venue opening up its grounds for  “It’s A Knockout” and sports day-style team building activities (because all work and no play…).

Knebworth House

Knebworth House

Barbecues are also on the agenda at Edinburgh Corn Exchange and The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.  Perth Racecourse is teaming finger-licking BBQ food with a vintage-style funfair, whereas Aberdeen Football Club will be taking ‘pride’ in special screenings of the Lion King at their drive-in cinema.

Aberdeen FC large image

The Lion King at Aberdeen FC

Cinema-inspired treats also feature in the summer offer at Leeds’ Headingley Carnegie Stadium, which is sweetening corporate events with popcorn and pick and mix, mini ice creams and chocolate bars or – for a healthier option – fruit kebabs, mixed nuts and seeds.

In the capital the Thames takes centre stage, with restaurant cruise Bateaux London hosting rooftop parties aboard their Scandinavian-designed vessel, The Harmony. Guests can enjoy an off-the-grill menu in a setting of flowers, fruit trees and the backdrop of London’s most famous sights.

Further up river, the recently launched Bateaux Windsor is offering a prosecco reception for guests, followed by a formal dinner, as the boat glides through one of England’s most historic, picturesque towns.

From a quintessentially English town, to a traditionally English pastime: The Apex and The Athenaeum – both in Bury St Edmunds – are swapping lunch for afternoon tea this summer, with a free bottle of fizz to enjoy in the sunshine.

Event organisers who feel summer just wouldn’t be complete without a glass of Pimms (correct!) should head to Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms, where it will feature in post-conference drinks receptions, alongside mini strawberry tarts.

Event guests at three of Tyneside’s top museums – Discovery, the Laing Art Gallery and The Great North Museum: Hancock – will also be offered seasonal drinks in the form of fruit punch at lunchtime. While IWM London, one of the capital’s leading visitor attractions, is serving post-conference classic cocktails.

Also in London, thrill seekers can mix business with pleasure at Emirates Aviation Experience , where they can take the controls of a flight simulator before relaxing on a terrace that overlooks the Thames – a great team building day out.

Other team building activity days can be found at Glasgow’s Hampden Park Stadium – where clients can follow in the ‘bootsteps’ of their heroes and become footballers for a day – and the city’s Hamilton Park Racecourse, which runs a variety of group activities too.

The word famous Ascot Racecourse is available for team building activities this summer in its gorgeous grounds. Plus, those who book before 31 October 2017 can enjoy a 10 per cent discount.

Ice cream and lollies can be added to day delegate packages at Everton Football Club’s Goodison Park Stadium and Belfast’s The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, while Newcastle United’s St James’ Park ground is giving guests a Purely Belter package, with bacon rolls on arrival and unlimited tea and coffee throughout the day.

st james

St James’s Park Ground

For further details on Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events’ Let It Shine guide call the central enquiry hub on 0845 6055 699, or email Venues&Events.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com or visit www.prestigevenuesandevents.sodexo.com.

A journey down the Thames

The River Thames starts as a small trickle in the Cotswolds and travels over 210 miles through the heart of some of England’s most picturesque towns, right into the centre of London and eventually, out into the North Sea. With plenty to see and do along the route we thought we’d take you on a virtual journey and perhaps stop off at a few interesting places along the way.

We start the journey at Henley on Thames which was recently voted by the Times as one of the best places to live in the English countryside. It’s also the home of Henley Royal Regatta which undoubtedly is the highlight of both the summer sporting and social calendar. The first event was held in 1839 and has been held annually ever since (except the two World Wars). It gained royal patronage in 1851 and it was originally staged as a public attraction with a fair. The emphasis rapidly changed so that competitive amateur rowing became its main purpose and over the years it has grown to its current form of five days which this year takes place on the 28th June – 2nd July.

Moving further down the river to Windsor you’ll find a beautiful and historic destination. Home to Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world and the Queen’s favourite weekend home. Its newest experience is Bateaux Windsor – the only one of its kind in the area and the sister company to Bateaux London. This elegant dining cruise delivers delicious dishes to passengers and enables guests to see the sights whilst cruising down the river.


From one royal residence to another, next stop is Hampton Court which can be best described as the ‘story of two palaces’: a Tudor palace, established by Cardinal Wolsey and made even more magnificent by Henry VIII, alongside a baroque palace built by William III and Mary II. Today the palace is a successful visitor attraction as well as home to the world’s largest, annual flower show which takes place every July. The first RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show was held in 1990 and it now welcomes over 130,000 visitors every year with this year’s event due to take place on the 4th – 9th July.


Fireworks on The Long Water at Hampton Court Palace

Moving east to the Royal Hospital Chelsea which of course has been the home of our beloved Chelsea Pensioners for over 325 years. The Royal Hospital is a Grade I and II listed building which was left to the Chelsea Pensioners by Charles II and Sir Christopher Wren and continues to be home for over 300 army veterans. It’s also the home to RHS Chelsea Flower Show (23rd – 27th May 2017) which takes place every year in the grounds of the hospital. This high profile event inspires millions through showcasing the best in garden design. This year’s event sees the return of Jardin Blanc; the second year of Raymond Blanc’s special horticultural hospitality experience. Nestled in a peaceful corner of the show, Jardin Blanc offers a variety of unique options for day and evening entertainment with the finest food and fantastic flowers.


Keep checking the blog for part two of our journey down the Thames in the next few weeks – we’ll be visiting Bateaux London, The Crystal and the Emirates Aviation Experience – see you then!

For further information about all of the above venues and events visit http://www.prestigevenuesandevents.sodexo.com/

The Future of Farming: we spoke to Growing Underground as they prepare for Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Last week, we went to visit salad farming start-up and suppliers to our Chelsea Flower Show hospitality offer, Jardin Blanc: Growing Underground.

Growing Underground grow fresh (and mouth-wateringly tasty!) micro greens and salad leaves using almost completely sustainable practices. The farm is based underground in a series of World War II –built tunnels – used as bomb shelters during this time – that sit 33 meters below the streets of Clapham.

Using the latest hydroponic systems and LED technology, their crops are grown all year-round in a pesticide-free environment. The hydroponics system uses 70% less water than traditional open-field farming and ensures that all nutrients are kept within the closed-loop system. Plus, GU drastically reduce the miles their leaves travel by keeping produce local – the leaves can be in your kitchen within 4 hours of being picked and packed!

Dressed in our best hair-nets, white coats and wellingtons (to protect the plants from any pollutants) we were given a tour of Growing Underground’s warren. The tunnels are extensive, running from Clapham high-street to the middle of The Common. They hum with machinery and glow neon-pink with LED lights. There are also a few quieter, darker tunnels that remain empty and still represent a bygone time: the space is an uncanny clash of future and past.

Founded by Richard Ballard and Steven Dring, in partnership with celebrity chef Michel Roux Jr, the company’s initiative is to promote sustainable farming in the UK and beyond. The idea was born out of Richard and Steven’s interest futurism, sustainability and urban farming, along with the pairs’ robust business acumen.

This year at Jardin Blanc, Growing Underground’s micro herbs are a main feature; with their greens displayed in ornate miniature greenhouses at the centre of dining tables. Guest will be encouraged to select and snip their own herbs, then add to their dishes to personalise and enhance. Plus, the restaurant’s Executive Chef, Raymond Blanc OBE, will be using a bespoke combination of leaves – rocket, radish, red mustard, coriander and fennel – to make the menu pop!



Excited to work with Growing Underground again, The Royal Horticultural Society invited Richard to give a talk at the very first London Urban Garden Show in November 2016. The event explored the challenges of urban growing through the ages, with Growing Underground discussing its future, including technology and new, prospective models of urban growing capable of feeding our global population.

*We didn’t know what this meant either! The definition of hydroponic is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil.

For more information on Jardin Blanc at The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flowers Show click here.

Sunday Brunch: a ‘social’ affair

A few weeks ago we launched a competition to celebrate the exclusive Jardin Blanc experience at the Chelsea Flower Show which this year takes places on the 23rd – 27th May 2017.

In return for your mouth-watering brunch pictures we are offering a range of fanciful prizes including hotel stays, champagne treats and lots more!

You’ve certainly had all the tummies rumbling in the office with pictures of your delicious dishes and tasty treats. The first of our winners was @Brinibelle with her poached eggs, salmon and spinach on toast looking totally delicious. Hannah Rowe became our second winner with her poached egg and avocado on toast creation! We particularly liked Colin Wheeler James’ entry of scrambled duck egg, oak smoked salmon and chive flowers on a toasted bagel as well as Louise Wong’s Spanish eggs with Chorizo and peppers. You may have had enough of chocolate eggs this weekend, but don’t let that put you off the savoury kind!

The competition runs until 10th May and to enter simply upload your best looking homemade brunch picture to our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages with the hashtag #JardinBlancSundayBrunch

You can also enter by following the link below: http://bit.ly/2mPrCY8

Jardin Blanc, a beautiful collaboration between Raymond Blanc OBE, The RHS and Sodexo – is nestled in a peaceful corner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and offers a variety of hospitality options for day and evening – the perfect way to enjoy the show with guests and clients.



For further information about Chelsea Flower Show and the Jardin Blanc Experience visit www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/Food-drink/Jardin-Blanc


Mystery fine-dining experience showcases familiar dishes with a twist

Sodexo’s Craft & Innovation chef team created a fine-dining experience with a difference at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School, for a select group of corporate and venue guests.

Led by Sodexo Divisional Executive Chef, Stephen Frost, the showcase dinner featured a mystery eight-course tasting menu, which was kept secret from guests until after the final course. The thinking behind this was to prevent individuals being influenced by some of the more unusual ingredients.


Dishes were created specifically to mimic familiar flavours but given a twist, with chefs incorporating some quirky additions.

Highlights of the tasting experience included:

  • ELT sandwich – classic BLT ingredient bacon, was replaced with eel and served alongside lettuce, tomato and mustard, encased in a brioche bun
  • Tuna & corn – the tuna was seared and served with a very unusual sweetcorn sorbet and tuille
  • Rack of lamb – roasted and then served with wild garlic pesto and white asparagus – the perfect spring dish
  • Truffled Clava – the wheel of Scottish brie style cheese was sliced in half, stuffed with truffles and roasted; before being served alongside grapes sautéed in sherry


Guests were also invited to take part in a canape masterclass with each member of the group provided with ingredients and encouraged to develop their own style and flavour before being judged by the Sodexo chefs.

Featuring fresh and local produce, the dinner aimed to showcase the best of Scotland’s larder and reinforce the fact that seasonal ingredients are always at the heart of Sodexo’s approach to menu creation. This experience not only demonstrated the talent and skill of our chef team, but celebrated our belief that creating a fine-dining occasion starts with great ingredients, used simply.


For further information about fine dining contact our team on 0845 6055 699 or email VenuesandEvents.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com They can create bespoke dining experiences at a number of stunning Scottish venues including Blair Castle, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Assembly Rooms and Dundas Castle.



Fine Dining at its best

Fine food is undoubtedly one of life’s most exquisite pleasures. A perfect culinary experience takes a diner on a multi-sensory journey, with every course creatively planned and lovingly crafted to match the mood of the occasion, season and venue.  At Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events our team of high profile chefs are connoisseurs at capturing this spirit of fine dining; skilled in creating beautiful food that delivers an impact way beyond expectation.

Ascot Racecourses Head Chef Ben Dutson and Executive Chef Gemma Amor recently designed a unique menu for a Christmas experience which echoed the anticipation of a race day with a show-stopping final course.

The menu, inspired by a recent visit to Alinea in Madrid (run by the same team behind Michelin 3-star restaurant Alinea in Chicago), Ben and Gemma developed Ascot’s ‘Gastronomic Food Journey’ experience – a unique 10-course tasting menu which created both a sense of drama and fun.

The complex menu included lots of unique and crafted techniques which created dishes such as an amuse bouche of smoked eel, soft cooked quails egg and a parsley velouté, a risotto noir with squid ink and butter-poached lobster and Wagu beef served raw on a hot stone.  Undoubtedly, the pièce de résistance was a stunning dessert involving no plates!  An aerated chocolate egg filled with praline brownie, freeze dried raspberries, yoghurt, and raspberry powder was placed on the table whilst chefs spread a colourful array of ingredients around it.  The egg was then dramatically smashed, leaving the table resembling a culinary version of a Jackson Pollock masterpiece.

Regional Executive Chef Stephen Frost is one of the creative forces working to create fine dining menus for some of our most exclusive venues and events in Scotland.

Stephen and his team of chefs take into account that food trends constantly evolve, the importance of local sourcing and relish in the art of introducing a quirky twist on the traditional to their dishes.

A recent event at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School enabled Stephen and the craft and innovation team to showcase their skills. Chefs cooked dishes from a five course menu live in front of invited guests and they were given the opportunity to help recreate dishes from the canapé selection.

Head Chef Tom Beauchamp is also experienced in creating unique, fine dining experiences. There is no better example than the recent 600 – year birthday celebration of Dundas Castle’s Auld Keep. At a preview event for 16 invited guests Tom matched the food to the castle’s story and created the atmosphere of a medieval banquet.

The table was set inside the Auld Keep’s Stag chamber and the eight-course banquet included ingredients from the Castle’s own estate including dried chive flowers and Scots pine oil extracted from tree branches.

The menu delivered intense flavours and a series of small courses such as devils on horseback using dates stuffed with fois gras, home cured duck ham, roast potato vichyssoise, West Coast scallop with pickled grapes, Roe deer tartare, a light stone bass fish course and Scottish Blackface lamb, with three types of broccoli and anchovies. Finally a chocolate pave with Hebridean sea salt, honeycomb and crème fraiche ice cream finished things off.

For further information about fine dining contact our team on 0845 6055 699 or email VenuesandEvents.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com

Making mum feel like a million dollars

Every mum should feel like a million dollars on Mother’s Day and that’s why some of our quirkiest, most interesting and best loved venues are putting her firmly centre stage on 26 March.
Thames restaurant cruise company Bateaux London is quite literally pushing the boat out, with a two and a half hour lunchtime cruise past some of London’s most famous landmarks.

A superb three course lunch – red velvet brownie with cheesecake cream and passion fruit curd, anyone? – against a backdrop of iconic sites such as Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster…it’s enough to make anyone feel like a princess.

Or, if you really want to ‘score’ some brownie points (yes, we’re back to brownies), why not give yourself a sporting chance by booking lunch at Brighton’s rather cool, very contemporary Amex stadium? Home to Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, it’s marking Mothering Sunday with a celebratory lunch in its flagship HB’s restaurant overlooking the hallowed turf and, in honour of the occasion, every mum will receive a special gift.

From the Amex, we’re off to the Apex, at Bury St Edmunds, which is getting the ball rolling a little earlier in the day with a Mother’s Day brunch. And, because very often what mums really, really, want is a little peace and quiet, they’re even laying on themed activities and entertainment – so she can sit back and relax with the Sunday papers before the whole family sits down to a delicious breakfast buffet.
And talking of children – after all, mothers wouldn’t be mothers without them – a trip to Knebworth House is a must. Not only can everyone enjoy a quintessentially British afternoon tea, but, while mum lingers over the lightest of cakes and scones, kids of all ages can explore the gardens and parkland which surround this historic gem.
Want to give mum something to look forward to for her special day? Why not surprise her with a VIP experience at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 23-27 May. We have partnered with Raymond Blanc to create Jardin Blanc, a premium dining experience and hospitality garden. We offer both day and evening packages for you to choose from which include a show ticket. On Saturday 27th May Raymond Blanc will treat his guests to exclusive cookery demonstrations – perfect for those mums with an inner masterchef.

Trade flowers for oars at the world’s most prestigious rowing event, the Henley Royal Regatta. Taking place from 28 June to 2 July, treat her to a stunning lunch and Champgane afternoon tea on the banks of the Thames, taking in the glamorous and exciting atmosphere of the Regatta in our beautiful restaurants at Fawley Meadows and Temple Island.

These are just some of the Mother’s Day treats on offer at venues across the country. To take a longer look, visit www.prestigevenuesandevents.sodexo.com, call our central enquiry hub on 0845 6055 699, or email VenuesandEvents.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com.

Phil Howard and Raymond Blanc OBE return to Royal Ascot 2017

Following on from their great success at Royal Ascot 2016, both Phil Howard and Raymond Blanc OBE, working with Ascot’s award-winning in-house team, will be treating guests to culinary delights alongside world class racing at the highlight of the summer events season.

Charming as ever, Raymond Blanc’s legendary restaurant, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire has held an impressive two Michelin stars for more than 30 years. He started working with Ascot in 2014 catering for the Private Boxes before graduating to the prestigious Panoramic Restaurant in 2016.  He has tailored the menu, staff training and service to create a restaurant which today provides one of the finest gastronomic experiences at the Royal Meeting.

He says, “The Royal Meeting is always so exciting and hosting in the Panoramic Restaurant is a real privilege. The Service Academy which I will be running in partnership with Ascot for a second year is something I am equally excited about. The Fine Dining experience at the Panoramic Restaurant is as much about the service as it is the food.”

Praised for his previous stints at Ascot, Phil Howard returns to On5 with a spectacular menu which remains faithful to his own cooking philosophy, championing the best of British produce. Another Michelin star winner (with two awarded to his co-owned restaurant, The Square), Phil has also won the prestigious Great British Menu in 2012 and his most recently launched restaurant, Elystan Street in Chelsea, is receiving rave reviews.

Phil’s view on hosting On5 at Royal Ascot reflects his signature style, “When planning the menu, seasonal British produce was at the forefront of my mind to create dishes that are both delicious and visually stunning – in keeping with such a prestigious occasion. It’s a privilege to have my dishes served at the Royal Meeting once again.”

To book or for further information with regards to Fine Dining at Royal Ascot, please call 0844 346 3000 or visit www.ascot.co.uk