It’s the only time in your life that the Olympics will be in London. And you’re in. As you walk into the winged, three-floor structure attached to the Olympic Park for dinner, the very building seems to urge you on to rejoice in, quite simply, how cool this all is.
“We want people to exclaim: ‘wow, we never thought it would be like this’”, says Tony Barnard, head of Prestige, the company in charge of corporate hospitality at London 2012. Prestige is so intent on wowing that Barnard has called the area in the central atrium of the structure – a massive glass entryway with an interactive icon powered by solar energy – the “anticipation area”.
That corporate hospitality guests will be watching the games of their choice (and budget) is obvious. But the question on all prospective customers’ lips, says Barnard, is: “What will the food be like?”
A TRUE CELEBRATION
This part of the package must be perfected. The standard of food has risen so sharply in London and the UK that nothing but the best will do. Couple this with the fact that corporate hospitality was born in London, and that nobody feels like splashing cash without exquisite returns these days, and you’ve got a recipe for all-stops-pulled-out.
The theme of the games’ hospitality offering is, predictably, best of British. This means “no fuss”, an emphasis on good ingredients, ethically produced, seasonal and from small (or as small as possible to supply the Games) farmers and growers. Strawberries and cream, says Barnard, is a bit cliche. “We can do better than that”. Think a true celebration of British fruit – summer pudding loaded with currants, indigenous berries of all sorts, doffed with Devon cream. Think Scottish langoustines, Cromer crab, Cornish sole.
Barnard himself is heading off in a boat with a Cornish fisherman of lemon sole and he’ll be foraging too, to find the best suppliers. British wine will be used where possible, but it’s not available in the quantities supplied, so high quality French and New World wine will be on hand too.
Prestige has seven of London’s most historical or architecturally impressive venues to work with and the food and entertainment will reflect the brilliance of the locations – and the character of each.
At Olympic Park in Stratford, service and dining will be formal – perfect for the most august of law firms and banks. Depending on your ticket, you can expect the very highest quality of British food – (the quality promises to be high throughout, but the value of ingredients may rise for the most expensive packages, such as the Opening and Closing ceremonies).
There are six restaurants in the three-story Olympic Park structure, similar in food and allocated according the timing of your event.
Meanwhile, at Horse Guards Parade, where the beach volleyball will be held, there will be a “five star Maldives” design, “where it’s not clear where the restaurant ends and the beach begins” and, Barnard reckons, a buffet or barbeque of fresh-cooked fish. Following dinner and the game, this pop-up beach club will turn into a party – Ibiza style, but all very luxe.
Sustainability and impeccable sourcing will be an overt theme. Of particular note – and a true sign of the robustly provenance-obsessed times (so long, plate of poached salmon and new potatoes, once beloved of corporate hospitality!) - is the short film before dinner is served at the Olympic Park.
Three minutes long, and played three minutes before dinner is served, projected on the “giant” screen in the room, will be a brief documentary of where the food came from, the story of its cultivation, how it was prepared by the chefs and then a word about the wine.
Foodies take note: don’t let your Olympic meal steal the limelight from the games themselves.