With the international spotlight on the home of golf for one of the world’s great sporting events, the Championship also helped celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, showcasing the country’s natural larder by offering some of the finest produce on the planet.
Despite some tough weather conditions, spectators were able to enjoy a warm Scottish welcome and exceptional local produce at the range of catering outlets and in the hospitality village.
Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, the catering partner of The Open, delivered a hugely successful service, which included public catering for over 230,000 spectators in a variety of on- course hospitality facilities.
Almost 20,000 meals were served to invited guests, event staff and media representatives from around the globe with Scottish suppliers prominent on all menus.
The responsibility for looking after these specific areas fell on the experienced duo of Executive Chef Trevor Garden and Account Director Sandy Robson, who have managed 16 Open Championships between them, and General Manager Linzi Purves, who took on a lead role in her third year as part of the management team for the event.
Months before the event, the team got to work designing the kitchens and front of house hospitality areas, recruiting and training hundreds of new staff to ensure they met the Prestige standard, creating the menus, sourcing local food and drink suppliers – and all this before the main job of preparing the food and serving the thousands of guests
Sandy, Account Director for Sodexo Prestige, said: “Trevor and his team of chefs really excelled themselves. It takes something special to serve tens of thousands of imaginative dishes with the eyes of the world upon you – not least at such a prestigious event and during Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.
“Scottish suppliers are at the forefront of what we do, so this was essential when we designed the menus. We source our ingredients from all over the country; for example Highland Smoked Salmon in Fort William, bacon from Robertson of Ayrshire and our cheeses are from suppliers on Arran, Lanarkshire and from St Andrews itself.
“It was of course a huge challenge to bring this all together, not least the sheer numbers involved and the expectations that come when serving VIPs and media professionals alike. But, we’re well versed in these kinds of events and we’re passionate about what we do so it was a tremendous opportunity to showcase what we can deliver.”
Delays caused by the weather resulted in a first for the team – the final day of The Open being played on a Monday. The extra day asked a lot of Sodexo Prestige but the team showed the flexibility needed to ensure the crowds continued smiling.
Sandy added: “Over the years we’ve learnt never to bank on the weather when you’re working on an outdoor event, even in July. While it was a first for us to be opening our restaurants on the Monday, the team pulled together to ensure that we could deliver the same food experience for our clients and customers as if they were coming on a regular Championship day.
“Linzi and Trevor pulled out all the stops to call in favours from suppliers for extra deliveries, extend accommodation and book additional staff. We showed a great deal of flexibility and willingness to react to the challenging situation which was appreciated by our client.
“On the unscheduled final day we re-opened 75% of our guest hospitality areas and were also able to cater for the 31,000 extra sports fans that poured through the gates. This was a great opportunity for us to extend our demonstration of what we can deliver at such high profile events.”
Sodexo Prestige’s commitment to the Year of Food and Drink and its partner suppliers meant the country of origin featured prominently on the menus with Scotch beef, lamb, smoked salmon and artisan cheeses taking centre stage.
From the sharing platters in the Links Pavilion deli to the Fillet of Buccleuch Beef in the Captain’s Suite the majority of the menu was sourced from within Scotland.
Fiona Richmond, Project Manager at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “The international spotlight was once again on Scotland as a world-class venue for major sporting events and this provided a great opportunity to demonstrate the country’s credentials as a Land of Food and Drink. Once again the country, and the industry, delivered, showing to the world what Scotland has to offer.
“Sodexo Prestige practice what they preach – local sourcing from Scotland’s fantastic larder and their offering at this prestigious tournament was no different, showcasing high quality Scottish produce to thousands of daily visitors throughout.”
The Open's agreement to provide sustainable, local and healthy food choices, through Scotland's Food and Drinks Charter for Events, is part of The R&A’s commitment to hosting a sustainable Championship through its Green-Links programme.
Michael Wells, Director– Championship Staging at The R&A, said: “We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the spectator experience at The Open and delivering the finest locally sourced produce was part of that commitment. We were delighted to support Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink and the spectators we welcomed from around the world certainly seemed to enjoy the wonderful Scottish fare at this year’s Championship.”