Golf's oldest Championship showcases finest Scottish fare
Sodexo’s collaboration with The R&A for the delivery of catering services at The 145th Open combined sustainability, food experience and consumer connection.
The 145th Open at Royal Troon brought together the world’s best players to compete for the iconic Claret Jug. The oldest and most international of golf’s four Majors, the Championship brought 173,000 hungry spectators to the small Scottish seaside town of Troon.
After four days of fierce competition and an epic battle with American Phil Mickelson, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson eventually emerged victorious to be crowned the 2016 Champion Golfer of the Year.
As one of the world’s great sporting events, The Open prides itself on offering an outstanding spectator experience and world class service. “The R&A is committed to staging The Open in a manner which brings value to the local economy, while also addressing social and environmental priorities”, said Michael Wells, The R&A’s Director – Championship Staging. “We have a new sustainable development programme for The Open called GreenLinks and catering forms a key element of our efforts in this area.”
For The 145TH Open, The R&A worked closely with official catering and hospitality partner, Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, to showcase the finest Scottish produce in line with the Scottish Food and Drink Pledge – a new initiative designed to help grow greater recognition and support for the country’s culinary offering. Industry leadership organisation Scotland Food & Drink, in partnership with the Scottish Government, VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, created the pledge to encourage businesses to demonstrate their commitment to sourcing Scottish produce, as a legacy of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015, which The Open also supported in St Andrews last year.
Sixteen different Scottish suppliers were selected, while a bespoke food map with supporting photography was on display in public catering areas. Sumptuous Buccleuch beef from the region’s farms was supplied by Campbell Brothers, and Scottish pork came via Robertson’s Fine Foods. On Troon’s doorstep, Barwheys provided it’s traditionally-made and award winning hard Ayrshire Cheese. Bellevue Creamery in Arran also provided cheese for the event, while oatcakes from Wooleys, another Arran-based business, were a further addition to the menu.
Over the week of the Championship, Sodexo’s 80-strong team of chefs produced more than 12,000 meals for hospitality guests while 2,000 sausage rolls, 5,700 burgers and more than 4,000 sandwiches were served to hungry golf fans through its fast-food and snack outlets.
Sodexo’s Executive Chef, Trevor Garden, said: “Planning and executing menus for over 170,000 people at one of the world’s biggest sporting events is no small culinary feat. Scotland is home to some of the most amazing produce in the world and it was important to both Sodexo and The R&A that local food featured heavily across our offering, ensuring the event supported the region’s economy while also highlighting the diversity and quality of Scotland’s natural larder.”
A little further afield, Sodexo sourced fish through Highland Smoked Salmon in Fort William, served Anster cheese from the St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company and received all of its milk, cream and butter from Graham’s The Family Dairy based near Stirling.
Fiona Richmond, Project Manager at Scotland Food & Drink, which organises the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, an annual celebration of the country’s outstanding natural larder and the people who grow, make, cook and sell it, due to take place from 3 to 18 September, said: “An event of the scale and reach of The Open is a fantastic platform to showcase Scotland’s natural larder and it has been great to collaborate with The R&A and Sodexo in this regard. Major events like The Open are incredibly valuable opportunities to help position Scotland internationally as a Land of Food and Drink.”
Alongside the food, central to the success of the event’s catering operations was its staff. Sodexo brought around 1,000 employees to Royal Troon and, ahead of the event, launched a recruitment drive in order to identify new talent and provide job opportunities in the local community. The organisation formed partnerships with Prestwick Chamber of Commerce as well as a number of local colleges. At Ayr College, a week’s training, which included World Host customer service accreditation, alcohol license certification, barista and restaurant service training, was provided to those interested in working with Sodexo at The Open, which resulted in 52 new team members.
Unique work experience placements were also provided to nine trainee chefs from City of Glasgow College. These students joined the company’s experienced chefs in the Links Pavilion, producing dishes such as stone-baked pizzas, pulled pork sliders and slow roast rib of beef, for up to 1,500 visitors a day.