Cooking back at The Open with chef Malcolm Emery

Malcolm Emery is no ordinary chef. With a glamorous career that includes catering the country’s most impressive venues and events; to drop a few names: Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, the Lord Mayor’s Banquet and Buckingham Palace’s Garden Parties. It is nevertheless his incredible length of service at The Open golf championship (a whopping 42 years!) which Malcolm credits as the most defining aspect of his working-life to date.

Malcolm Emery

Principal Chef, Malcolm Emery

Since his first Open in 1975, Malcolm has seen the competition change dramatically, witnessing its incredible growth first hand. One of the key challenges and pleasures in his preparation for The Open is the event’s annually changing location. Whilst other Sodexo hospitality events – such as Royal Ascot and Henley Royal Regatta – are held in the same location each year, The Open is a somewhat nomadic championship. Each location presents its own unique set of surprises, of which Malcom and his team have unfailingly overcome via working in temporary structures and managing the logistics of delivering supplies to the middle of a course.

Malcolm, most recently, was instrumental in overseeing the opening of The Champions Club restaurant. The Club includes roaming waiters offering a selection of pre-lunch canapés, chefs serving a variety of bistro style classics and savoury snacks from a central station and a quirky, centrepiece garden with large bar area. The experience allows guests to enjoy the luxuries of fine food and flexibility, as they are able to drop in at any time rather than having to book.

Planning is a crucial consideration at The Open, with 700 covers being served each day, innovation and quality are of paramount importance. A different menu is presented each day, including everything from a full Scottish breakfast to a five-course lunch and afternoon tea. The key to Malcolm’s success is his enthusiasm to discover new recipes, the best local fare and new ways of food preparation, a pursuit which involves participating in food innovation tours and study groups as well as working closely with his supply team.

The last 42 years have seen The Open and its culinary offerings evolve in leaps and bounds. And one thing is certain; whether at this internationally renowned sporting event, or at any number of other beautiful venues, with Malcolm at the helm, the catering is sure to score a hole in one.

For further details on Hospitality at The Open, go to https://www.theopen.com/  or contact Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events on 0845 6055 699 or email Venues&Events.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com

Promotion, Pies & the Premier League: Part 2

St. James’ Park stadium, a true landmark in Newcastle upon Tyne, is home to Newcastle United Football Club. The team were recently crowned Champions having secured a promotion to the Premier League after their 4-1 win against Preston North End this April.

NUFC Celebration 2017

The Newcastle United team celebrate their promotion

The Club’s history has undoubtedly had its highs and lows. This will be the Club’s second return to the top flight in seven years; having previously been relegated back in 2009 and bouncing straight back to the Premiership in the summer of 2010. Six years in the Premier League were then abruptly halted with relegation in 2016. However the club, headed by Rafa Benitez, returned back to the top at the first opportunity, proving that they are well and truly a top flight team in every sense.

Sodexo has provided catering at the stadium for the last seven years and shared this promotion-journey with them. We caught up with Frankie Angus, General Manager, who talked about what the promotion means for the club and the catering team moving forward.

What has the journey been like to secure promotion?

An emotional rollercoaster to say the least! The Championship brings so many more matches to the table.  We have provided hospitality at 27 home games this season including league, competition and friendly matches – far more than previous years in the Premier League. After a disappointing start, we picked up the pace and by mid-October we remained in 1st and 2nd position in the league table until the end of the season.  Our hospitality has always been of Premiership standard and therefore as a catering-provider our service has always remained top flight quality.  Following our match against Preston North End which secured promotion, we were then challenged with the chance of being hailed Champions, approaching the last two games with a 7 point deficit against Brighton. We were crowned Champions on the last game of the season and the celebration roar from the crowd could be heard for miles around.

How has your journey to the Premier League affected day to day operations?

We’ve always thought and operated like a Premier League club so we’ve not really seen a huge difference. From the start of the season, our crowds have always remained high, due to the immense passion in the city for the football club.  Crowd numbers haven’t faltered all season and averaged 51,000 at home games.  Our hospitality numbers have also remained strong all season, however, following our promotion we were completely sold out in all hospitality areas, with over 2,500 hospitality guests attending the last game of the season. We have a very close working relationship with the club and we also have nine years’ worth of intelligence to make sure we forecast and stock up accordingly.

What does being promoted to the Premier league mean to you all?

It’s a big operation here at St. James’ Park. We have a team of 65 and on match day we can have 1000 staff. We all feel extremely proud of the promotion and privileged to have been part of it. When Rafa, our First Team Manager decided to stay at St James’ Park at the end of the 2015/16 season we all knew that we were in safe hands and confident he could get us back to top flight football.  His passion and desire to succeed is emulated throughout our whole business and we all strive to be the best.  Now that we are back in the Premier League we can prove that’s where we should always be.  We are United in every sense and the forthcoming season is going to be very exciting.

Looking forward to next season, what can we expect to see?

Our Stadium Manager is constantly refurbishing the stadium both on the concourses and in the hospitality areas, so this year is no exception.  Plans are in place to refurbish 3 of our hospitality suites and also to improve our onsite car parking areas surrounding the stadium.  Less matches in the Premier League doesn’t mean we will be any less busy.  Plans are continuing to expand on menu offerings on matchdays while ensuring our hospitality remains second to none.

For more information about St. James’ Park visit www.nufc.co.uk

Hampden Park’s New Look

Last month, Hampden Park football stadium – known proudly as Scotland’s National Stadium and situated in the Mount Florida area of Glasgow – unveiled a luxurious, new suite of event spaces.

The refurbishment resulted in the rebranding of 26 executive boxes. Now known sonorously as ‘Skyboxes,’ this new title denotes their extraordinary vantage point over the pitch. Decorated in a modern style, with sleek, minimalist fittings and colourful new furniture, they’ve been ‘kitted’ out with the latest technology too, supporting corporate clients in hosting board room lunches and meetings at the venue.

Hoping to attract a more versatile events business, the space is now more flexible than ever – boxes can be joined together to create rooms double or even quadruple their original size. Plus, if you want to get closer to the feeling of football, or create a break-out space for events, access to outdoor pitch-side seating (and some glorious, brisk Scottish air) is easily accessible.

SkyBox

The spaces’ breath-taking views and new look have already been met with admiration, as Peter Dallas, Hampden Park Ltd’s Managing Director, stated: “We are extremely pleased our vibrant new Skybox concept has received such positive reviews from our visitors so quickly. Working in partnership with our long-standing partner Sodexo, Hampden now offers conferencing and banqueting facilities that are amongst the best in the country.”

Hampden Park’s renovations also extended to their North Stand lounge, transforming it into a contemporary events space and re-dubbing it the ‘Skylounge.’. Now suitable for both private and corporate bookings (whereas before this space was reserved only for match-day hospitality guests), the lounge has a generous capacity of 150 persons.

Hampden SkyLounge © Sandy Young

SkyLounge

The new designs accommodate all types of visitors to Hampden Park; from events guests to football fans, the local business community and beyond. Despite being one of the oldest football institutions in the country (with the first Hampden Park stadium, originally at a different site, dating back to the 17th century) this stadium is clearly stealing a march on the stadia competition.

Did this spark your interest? If so, check out our article ‘10 Reasons to choose a stadium for your next event

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

The season never has to end… 10 reasons to choose a stadium for your next event

 

1.Plenty of free parking onsite. No matter how good the meeting, delegates will always begrudge paying for parking at an event, or event struggling to find parking at all.

2.Easy to get to. Stadiums often have easy access to railways nearby and great road links.

3.An excellent view.  Many of today’s stadiums features lounges with pitch views.  This feature is one that is impressive to both sports and non-sports fans.

4.A sporting message. A sports stadium lends itself immediately to events with team work and success related objectives.  “Get back into the Game”, “What it takes to Win”, “getting to the Top of our League”, “Teamwork will help Drive Us”, and of course, the reference to goals is a natural tie-in.

5.Unique Style. Although built for a specific purpose, each stadium has its own particular character, which is driven by the colourful history of its home teams. This type of historical reference creates a unique quality in the venue that cannot be matched by another.

Headingley Experience

Headingley Experience

6.Quirky ‘extras.’ Events in the players’ changing rooms, plenary’s delivered from the stands, unique team photo opportunities –elements like these bring a new twist to events, that just cannot be duplicated in a non-stadium venue.

7.Universal appeal Whether it’s a small meeting for ten in a box, a large conference for 350, an exhibition, wedding or a dinner dance, the variety of spaces in a stadium ensure that it’s likely somewhere in the stadium will suit your event.

8.Space and plenty of it. Stadiums feature multiple lounges and boxes, usually allowing multiple events to be on site at the same time. The added bonus here is late lead-in flexibility, so when half the boxes are booked, there are still another batch available for last minute enquiries who may be stuck finding space at short notice.

9.A local message.  If your event is trying to deliver a message about the local market and community, the local sporting stadium is the ideal community location from which to deliver that message to the delegates.

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Angus the bull, Aberdeen FC

10.A memorable event . Every delegate who attends an event at a stadium, remembers that they went to an event at a stadium!

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

Footy Fabulous: Sodexo’s awards sweep at the Stadium Experience Awards ‘17

Football Clubs – Hampden Park, Dundee United, Newcastle United, Everton, Aberdeen and Brighton & Hove Albion – put their best foot forward (pun intended) at The Stadium Experience Awards 2017. The awards focus on clubs’ off-the-pitch successes, recognising the achievements of the catering, conference and events teams, and hosted in the newly expanded Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club.

The Brighton team, Stadium Events and Hospitality Awards 2017

Winning an outstanding total of 8 awards (out of 10 categories!), a huge congratulations is due. Sodexo could not be prouder of their partnerships with Hampden Park, Dundee United, Newcastle United, Everton, Aberdeen and Brighton & Hove Albion and are thrilled to have the efforts and dedication of their catering, conference and events teams recognised. A big well done to all!

The award wins are as follows:

  1. Hampden Park Stadium – WINNER – Overall Matchday Hospitality Award
  2. Hampden Park Stadium – Gold – Matchday Hospitality Award – Large Stadium
  3. Dundee United FC – Bronze – Matchday Hospitality Award – Small Stadium
  4. Newcastle United FC – Gold – Directors Choice Award
  5. Everton FC – Gold – Chef Team of the Year Award
  6. Hampden Park Stadium – Bronze – Chef Team of the Year Award
  7. Aberdeen FC – Gold – Non-Matchday Mystery Shopper Award
  8. Brighton & Hove Albion FC – Gold – Media Choice Award

 

Discover more about events and hospitality at our award winning football stadia here.

Following on from this fantastic news, Sodexo has also secured a new three-year contract with Aberdeen Football Club. This contract builds on a 23-year relationship between Sodexo and the club. Indeed, Aberdeen FC was Sodexo’s first stadia client in the UK and Ireland.

The club have ‘pitched’ a £5.7m extension that will see Sodexo continue to provide catering services on match days: operating the café and public retail units and all hospitality, conference and banqueting events.

With so many recent, winning developments in the world of football-catering, the presence of Sodexo Prestige Venue & Events within the sector is going from strength to strength as we aim to ‘match’ the clubs’ sporting excellence with our service excellence.

Learn more about the developments at Aberdeen FC’s Pittodrie Stadium here.

For more information on Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events’ call the central enquiry hub on 0845 6055 699, or email Venues&Events.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com or visit www.prestigevenuesandevents.sodexo.com.

Football, food and awards with Izzy Christiansen

Isobel Christiansen (known as Izzy) is at the top of her game. Winner of consecutive Women’s Superleague Championships, the Continental Tyres Cup and also winning the personal accolade of Women’s PFA Player of the Year (sponsored by Sodexo) she is one to watch in Women’s Football.

We caught up with Izzy recently and discussed all things football, training regimes, diet as well as what it means to her to win such an accolade.

“Our training regime is periodised, so we work on a 4 week schedule where the weeks get harder and harder and the fourth week is used as a rest week. The only difference between a normal week and a rest week is that the timings of training adjust a little bit so it’s reduced time. The intensity is kept the same to ensure you sustain a match level of fitness.” Izzy also admits to enjoying all aspects of training when asked which exercises she dreads, “I’m quite a geek and like learning, to know why we do things. I enjoy working with the technical, tactical team out on the training field and also working with the sports science team who provide the science behind what we do.”

Izzy suffered an injury in one of the opening games of the season so it would have been easy for Izzy to let her head go down, but she is a resilient young woman and explained, “I was obviously really disappointed to have worked so hard during our pre-season period and then to get injured. It’s part of the game though and injuries certainly adjust your diet and your training.”

Like any normal woman in her 20’s she confesses to loving chocolate, “It’s definitely my weak point”, and hankers after the comfort of her mum’s home cooking, particularly roast dinners. However, her determination and commitment to her sport mean that she takes nutrition seriously and explains, “Where we are now with Women’s football, diet has become even more integral than it was 5-10 years ago. As with any professional sport there’s a key amount of science that goes in to what we need to eat and why we need to eat it. Again, I’m really interested in that side of things and I find it quite easy to maintain a good diet. My diet mainly consists of lots of vegetables, very good protein sources, carbohydrates when needed to fuel training and fuel the games, and increasing protein intake for recovery post training.”

Izzy is very much a star in her own right, having been voted by her peers as the PFA Women’s Player of the Year 2016, something she describes as being a “huge honour” but also “a massive shock”. On the back of winning consecutive Women’s FA Super League titles with Manchester City, her views on the future of the women’s game are similarly positive, “The amount of progress it’s made over the past 5 years is phenomenal really. I think the more teams that we can get the wider the participation. We can improve the standard of the players coming through to strengthen the league and make it bigger, make the league more competitive.”

The PFA Awards 2017 are taking place on the 23rd April where the new Women’s Players’ Player of the Year will be announced, and also the Young Women’s Players’ Player of the Year – both awards are sponsored by Sodexo. It will be fascinating to see the rising stars of the Women’s game, especially with the sport growing increasingly influential.

The full interview with Izzy Christiansen is available in the recent issue of Prestige magazine. Take a look here: Prestige Magazine Spring 2017

A step into football past and present

Here, at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, we’ve had a busy February with some interesting conference events including a couple of banqueting dinners and the exciting opening of the new Education and Heritage Centre with a Menu Showcase booked in for April.

Our planned menu showcase on the 5th April will allow us to show off our talents and display the best of what we can offer to a captive market. Stephen Frost and Fritz Machala are at the forefront of this event producing a wonderful display of canapés, bowl food and banqueting options.  We will surprise and delight guests by offering a wide array of dining locations from the multi-purpose corporate boxes, to drinks receptions in the dressing rooms and elegant dining in the heart of the new Education and Heritage Centre which opened on 22nd February.

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The Education and Heritage Centre is a major contribution to the stadium and adds another string to our bow for hospitality. It offers a new dimension of bringing children and youth groups to the stadium for our ‘Sporting Heroes’ and ‘Little Legends’ catering packages.

The Education and Heritage Centre tells the unique story of Northern Irish football using a varied range of media, immersive physical interactives and key artefacts from the 1880s to the present day. A 45 minute walking tour, covering ¼ mile, visitors can relive the atmosphere of match day, gain insights into the drama on and off the pitch and feel the rush of emotions shared by everyone inside the stadium, whether their team wins or loses.  Additional to the centre guided tour, visitors can also go behind the scenes and take a seat in the Northern Ireland changing room, sharpen their knowledge in the Press Room and sit in the dug-out and walk out the tunnel of the Green and White Army.

When hosting the tours around the stadium, surprisingly, to most popular request by the ladies, is to see the ice baths in the changing rooms. These functional ‘climb in’ spaces seem to attract much attention, not for what they are, but for who uses them!  The gents on the other hand like to get their selfies taken in the hot seats of the manager’s chairs in the press conference room.  Exciting times ahead as we look to create amazing hospitality in the most unusual settings.  A personal challenge that is more than welcome.  Who says you host can’t a drinks reception in the shower rooms and a wedding reception in the museum?

Laura West, Sales Manager, National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Northern Ireland.

For information about holding an event at the stadium, contact the Central Enquiry Hub on 0845 6055 699 or email venues&events.prestige.uk@sodexo.com  or take a look at their page online