Royal Ascot racegoers are dining on exquisite menus from Michelin-starred chefs, as well as being able to order and buy refreshments via a new mobile phone app, as the famous five-day festival of horse racing welcomes crowds of up to 12,000 a day as part of the Government’s Events Research Programme.
And while that is a fifth of crowd sizes in previous years, it still leaves challenges for the caterers – 1711 by Ascot – a joint venture between Ascot Racecourse and Sodexo’s Sports & Leisure business, as it delivers fine dining and hospitality in both the Royal Enclosure and Queen Anne Enclosure, as well as working with renowned chefs on restaurants at the course, including the Panoramic Restaurant by Raymond Blanc OBE, the Wolferton by Ollie Dabbous , ON 5 by Simon Rogan and the simply-titled Rick Stein Restaurant.
But the leading hospitality firm is innovating to deliver a Covid-safe experience, while ensuring that the world-class food and service people have come to expect remains the same.
There is a dedicated server for each box, and everything is brought to the server, with no other staff entering the box. This theme has been followed through to the restaurants, where a lead waiter has all the interaction at the table including taking orders, serving food and clearing. Other safety measures include upweighted cleaning, Covid-testing for customers and staff, and training for teams on the new protocols.
Food and drink is also be available for order through the Ascot Food and Drink App, which guests can download to their phone via the apple store or Google Play.
Dishes in the Royal Enclosure include a seafood platter comprised of smoked chalk stream trout, poached Scottish salmon, langoustine and prawn salad; and roasted fillet of beef with truffle whipped potato and bone marrow crumble.
For those who can’t make the event, 1711 by Ascot has created gourmet picnic hampers. These can be ordered and delivered to those who want to bring the Royal Ascot experience to wherever they are celebrating the occasion as Ascot and Sodexo strive to make this year’s event a memorable experience for everyone.
Chris Bray, CEO for Sodexo Sport and Leisure, said, “While this year’s Royal Ascot will be different, we will deliver our usual fantastic culinary experiences. A lot of work has gone into creating an experience that is safe, but still enjoyable and memorable. And, as it is one of the first great British summer events this year, it is really important to the industry and one the organisers hope will show confidence in the hospitality industry as it reopens.”
Jonathan Parker, Managing Director of 1711 by Ascot, said, “We have such an incredible line-up of world-class chefs this year alongside world-class horse racing marks a very special return for the Royal Meeting. We pride ourselves on providing memorable experiences and those who will enjoy their day in Raymond, Simon, Ollie and Rick’s restaurants can expect sensational food, impeccable service and a sporting occasion like no other.”
Culinary Ambassador Raymond Blanc OBE, is serving lunch and afternoon tea to guests in the Panoramic Restaurant for a sixth year. He said, 'My 2021 menu showcases the best British produce. Welcoming back racegoers and our restaurant guests is such a wonderful moment, bringing that special ‘Raymond Blanc’ hospitality and joie de vivre back to the world’s greatest racecourse. Voila”.
Sodexo is behind other major events this summer providing fantastic culinary experiences such as the Henley Regatta and the Chelsea Flower Show as well as at amazing venues such as Newcastle United, Hampden Park in Glasgow and the iconic Thames river cruise Bateaux London.