The art of feeding thousands at the 2017 WTA Finals Racquet Club
Eight days, 4 kitchens, 450 staff and over 8,000 meals. Oh, and tennis.
BY Editors | Oct 26, 2017 | Food & Drink
After training in a 1 star Michelin restaurant in the UK, Garry Edgley returned to Australia where he owned and managed his 1-chef-hat Gastro Pub in Melbourne. After a successful 9 years he moved into an events role, working as the Head Chef for the Rowlands group cooking up for key events such as the Australian F1 Grand Prix, Avalon Air Show, Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and the Phillip Island Moto GP event. Taking part in the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global for the first time this year, Garry takes on the role of Executive Chef to prepare over 8,000 meals for Racquet Club guests and players, over the course of the 8-day tournament. We had a chat with the man himself and checked in on his epic role.
Esquire: What is essential for Racquet Club to provide a premium experience for patrons with different taste preferences?
Garry Edgley: To create a premium menu for Racquet Club, the award-winning premium hospitality programme of the WTA Finals, you need a catering team that knows the taste preferences of international customers and an experienced kitchen brigade that has the ability to manage a large scale kitchen efficiently off-site. SATS Delaware North has the culinary knowledge and expertise to deliver that.
We work with both the organiser, Lagardère Sports, and hospitality suite owners to understand their needs. Bearing in mind the scale of the event, availability of seasonal produce, as well as the varying needs of the Racquet Club patrons and top tennis players, we developed a menu of global cuisines with Asian flavours.
Esquire: What are some of the challenges coordinating for and catering to the variety of preferences, while maintaining a high level of standard in your dishes?
Garry Edgley: One of the biggest operational challenges would be to work in separate kitchen stations. With the main production kitchen in the National Stadium, careful planning and coordination are essential to ensure a smooth operation just like how it would be if we were in one big kitchen. You need a lot of discipline to make that happen.
As the kitchens at the Racquet Club have only basic cooking utilities, you need to use different cooking techniques to create that high quality of food. The teams at the off-site kitchens will have to add the finishing touches when they plate the food. Serving up 72 different dishes on the menu that have 3 to 5 components for each dish requires careful planning and a very experienced crew. It is quite a feat cooking 8,000 meals for top players and guests in a restricted setting. You need a lot of culinary expertise to deliver that.
Esquire: Could you illustrate how big of an operation it is to feed hospitality guests of the WTA Finals over the course of 8 days?
Garry Edgley: The scale is big. We will be serving up 9.1 tons of food including fruits and vegetables. There are 64 different desserts specially prepared for the event and the menu is rotating daily. There will also be a hospitality and specialised kitchen that prepares a separate menu for the top women’s tennis players. With the WTA Finals tournament stretching over the course of 8 days, we would need 4 kitchens and 450 staff to prepare over 8,000 meals for guests and players.
Esquire: Share with us your inspiration behind curating the Racquet Club menu.
Garry Edgley: As the event is held in Singapore, we feel it would be appropriate to give the guests a global cuisine with a fusion twist. We experimented with different cooking techniques, amalgamating local and international flavours, to curate a unique culinary experience for the guests. To add culinary excitement to the event, we have also created a selection of delectable food from the four major cities that host the Tennis Grand Slams – Melbourne, Paris, New York and London, which will be available through our concessions operations.
Esquire: Are there any highlights for this year’s menu?
Garry Edgley: This year, guests at the Racquet Club can expect a mix of flavours. They will not only find tastes they are familiar with but also discover new flavours. There will also be an increase in interactive stations brought to the hospitality suites. What this means is that chefs will be stationed within the suites, either carving the meats fresh when ordered, or adding the finishing touches to dessert items.
Esquire: Wimbledon has strawberries and cream. Does the Racquet Club serve anything unique to the crown-jewel event in Singapore?
Garry Edgley: At Racquet Club, we pay homage to the uniquely Singaporean favourite – the chilli crab. We put our own spin on the popular local dish by drizzling a selection of fresh, wok fried seafood with our own chilli crab sauce. To complete the gastronomical experience, we serve the dish with lightly fried mantou to finish the delicious chilli crab sauce.
Esquire: What can fans expect at this year’s Racquet Club?
Garry Edgley: Apart from watching the world’s greatest in women’s tennis compete from the best seats in the house, Racquet Club patrons also get to enjoy a fine selection of international cuisines and a free flow of wine, beer and non-alcoholic refreshments alongside some of their favourite tennis players and legends.
For those looking for the best in live sports entertainment, music and performances, tickets and special packages for WTA Finals 2017 starts at just $27*. Check WTAFinals.com for promotions and to purchase of your single sessions, packages and hospitality tickets.
For enquiries or corporate hospitality bookings, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The WTAFinals.com website is also a one-stop centre for fans to get tickets, win opportunities to enhance your event experience and learn about all things tournament-related, from the rules of the game, to inside scoops, as well as the latest from leading players as they climb the Porsche Road to Singapore Leaderboard.