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Sodexo Prestige caters to Royal taste buds at the charity gala for Art Antiques London

Art Antiques London attracts the world’s most serious institutional and private buyers each year. A global community of collectors, dealers, curators, connoisseurs and art lovers come together to visit this sumptuous summer showcase for the arts. The eminent dealers it attracts are specialists in a broad range of disciplines, including furniture, paintings, textiles, jewellery, silver, ceramics, rare books and modern and contemporary objets d’art.

The launch night of the seven-day prestigious occasion, was billed as a ‘Party in the Park’ and Sodexo Prestige ensured guests who gathered to support the charity Children in Crisis had a night to remember. 240 distinguished guests attended the charity gala event, enjoying a Champagne and canapé reception followed by a five-course dinner. With Royal attendance and the evening’s food and entertainment themed around a Victorian childhood, a magical night was enjoyed by all. The location in a purpose-built pavilion in the grounds of Kensington Gardens, opposite the Royal Albert Hall and alongside the Albert memorial, which was commissioned by Queen Victoria herself, reflected perfectly the theme of the evening.  

HRH Princess Eugenie of York, who co-chaired the organisation of the fund-raising event, was there alongside her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York. The Duchess founded Children in Crisis in 1993 to give children in some of the world’s poorest countries the education they need to help transform their lives.  

For Sodexo Prestige’s Event Manager James Stallabrass and Executive Chef Ben Dutson, it was a new and fun challenge to create a menu to fit perfectly with the evening’s theme. Entertainment included renditions from young performers of songs from Oliver! and Les Misérables complete with dance routines. Guests enjoyed creative canapés in the style of savoury mini 99 cones and an assortment of handmade scotch eggs aimed to transport guests back to their childhoods. The selection included truffled goats’ cheese, Coronation chicken mousse, hot smoked salmon and smoked duck parfait in flavoured cones including spinach pesto.  

Executive Chef, Ben explained the inspiration behind his dishes: “The ice cream cone was an obvious link to the childhood theme, but we wanted to come up with culinary creations that weren’t quite what they seemed. We have served goats’ cheese cones in the past which worked excellently, but this time we incorporated other savoury flavours for this fabulous evening.”  

Eugenie herself had joined the Children in Crisis management team at a pre-event food tasting and the attractive theme James and Ben created was a resounding success, pleasing the Royal party.  

Every detail was considered in the creation of this magical evening; the decoration of the pavilion included 23 round tables, clad in pink, green and blue cloths, each bearing the name of popular Victorian childhood games such as Stilts, Marbles, Jacks, Rag Dolls, Diablo, Quoits and Hula Hoop.  

The vintage glassware, specially sourced by James, and the mis-matched vintage crockery from Classic Crockery of Sunbury, also reflected the historic theme and added an interesting twist.  

The ‘1851’ restaurant where the gala evening was staged, was subsequently open to the public each day of the fair (12 – 18 June) between noon and 4pm for fine dining on a par with the capital’s top restaurants. Traditional afternoon tea was also served between 4pm and 5.30pm. In addition, Prestige prepared some evening banquets for specific collectors’ societies, for example a Collectors' Dinner attended by collectors, curators and dealers.  

The 1851 Café was also in operation by Sodexo, serving Aspretto coffee, pastries and sandwiches to the public. The seating area offered a beautiful view over the park, including an outdoor terrace area to enjoy the summer days in style.  

Alex Beaumont, Head of Events at Sodexo Prestige commented: “Working in this splendid pavilion demonstrates that we are quite comfortable operating pop-up restaurants. We have a lot of experience in running fine dining pop-up restaurants at events like Chelsea Flower Show and The Open Championship, but the restaurant at Art Antiques London ran for longer at 10 days. With set-up of our bar services at Live on the Waterfront starting at the same time and running over the weekend, it has been an extremely busy time for our team, especially with Royal Ascot beginning this week, overlapping with Art Antiques for a few days. We are very fortunate that we have such a strong team with vast experience to cover multiple events on a scale like this.”

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