One of the highlights in the UK’s annual sports calendar, The 145th Open is held at Royal Troon, 10th -17th July 2016 and will attract an unprecedented number of visitors to the region. Trevor Garden, Executive Chef for Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, leads the culinary team at this year’s Championship.
Responsible for showcasing the best of Scotland’s natural larder to golfers, sports fans, invited guests and media personnel, we go behind-the-scenes to meet the man in charge of catering to approximately 200,000 people attending The Open over eight days.
What does your role involve?
I oversee all areas of the catering operation, from menu development and sourcing the right suppliers to service delivery in our variety of outlets across the course. I use the best, locally-sourced produce to develop innovative dishes which showcase outstanding Scottish ingredients to our spectators and guests. The Open is a very unique but special event. The clientele is almost as passionate about food as they are about golf! In just one week, we’ll serve 7,000 hospitality guests more than 12,000 meals in The R&A Complex as well as cater for the thousands of spectators who’ll attend each day.
The event puts Scotland and its food on the world stage and our role is to ensure that we showcase the very best of what it has to offer.
When and how do you start planning for an event on this scale?
Planning and executing menus for hundreds-of-thousands of people at one of the world’s biggest sporting events is no small culinary feat. The first thing I look at is the location. One of the greatest sources of inspiration comes from the local delicacies and I always try to weave them into our offering in some way, adding a special twist or quirk to make them unique to the event. We’re incredibly lucky to be in Scotland, which is home to some of the most amazing produce in the world.
As quality, seasonality and sustainability are at the core of our cooking, we work closely with our suppliers across the region and Scotland as a whole. It’s very important to both Sodexo and The R&A, that the event supports the local economy. Through researching and meeting with food producers in the area, I get a good idea of what’s available. Above all else, I am looking for quality – the produce has to be excellent. This year’s menus feature two Arran cheeses created by the wonderful Bellevue Creamery, who produce traditional cheeses with a twist using milk sourced from three dairy herds on the island. Arran is a great source of some fine producers and we’ll also be using oatcakes, chutneys and preserves from the island. Our meat all comes from Campbell Brothers and we’ve worked with them to ensure that the Buccleuch beef we serve comes from farms in the region and our pork is sourced through Robertson’s of Ardrossan.
A little further afield from our Ayrshire base, we’ve sourced all of our smoked salmon through The Highland Smokehouse in Fort William, we’ll serve the lovely Anster cheese from St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company and Graham’s the family dairy will supply all of our milk, cream and butter.
What is the greatest challenge?
For The Open, we’re always cooking in remote, outdoor locations and it takes a great level of commitment and talent from our team of 90 on-site chefs to be able to deliver the calibre of food required on this scale and still make it appear effortless. Cooking within these parameters means pushing our own creative boundaries to be even more innovative. Our kitchens are specifically designed for us to ensure they meet the requirements of the event. We create an exceptionally high standard of food that wouldn’t look out of place in a top restaurant, served to a large number of people in a temporary structure. It might be assumed that because we are delivering a very large amount of food we’re doing so in a bulk-volume way. But the quality of our food is incredible. Our chefs do amazing things – creating bespoke four course menus, producing beautiful slow-cooked meats, serving sumptuous street-food – this all takes craft, innovation and a huge amount of skill.
In addition to our core team, every year we take on a handful of students from City of Glasgow College who we train personally, giving them exposure to a unique catering set-up that they’re unlikely to get anywhere else. They work side by side with our staff and bring a welcome vibrancy to the kitchen.
And finally, do you play golf?
I love golf, but I’m very bad at it!
Follow Sodexo Prestige & Events on @SodexoPrestige and The Open action on @TheOpen and @RoyalTroonGC