Sydney Royal Easter Show 2015
“Where else could you be served crispy panko prawns with spicy Japanese mayonnaise and Murray River pink salt while watching motorbikes doing backflips? Sometimes the Sydney Royal Easter Show is quite surreal, thanks to the awesome quality of the catering. The RAS Agricultural team utilises the Sydney Showground catering team for many events during the Sydney Royal Easter Show as well as throughout the year. I am constantly amazed that they are able to deliver cuisine of the highest restaurant quality amongst a sea of dagwood dogs and fairy floss.” Murray Wilton - General Manager Agriculture, Royal Agricultural Society of NSW
How do you satisfy the culinary wishes of almost 800,000 visitors to the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest annual event, the Sydney Royal Easter Show? Sydney Showground’s food and beverage team does it via 23 boutique restaurants, cafes, bars, retail outlets, corporate suites and staff dining rooms. Such a large event requires a formidable level of organisation. The Showground team manages a kitchen brigade of 85 people and a front of house team of 300. They serve over 10,000 meals per day through their outlets, on-site deliveries, and at over 175 functions.
Details of food and beverages served
While food on sticks is the domain of contracted vendors, the Sydney Showground catering team is responsible for fine cuisine at the Show. Close and unrivalled partnerships with award-winning producers of food and beverages from all around Australia are utilised by the team for access to exceptional produce. Stunning seasonal menus designed around this produce impress even the most sophisticated palate. Much of what is served, from boutique beers to breads to olive oils used on salads, has won gold medals at Sydney Royal events.
Logistics and timing are everything. On a site so large and crowded (it can take 40 minutes to get staff and supplies from one end to the other!), everything has to be planned precisely, far in advance. There are just three loading docks for all the produce and trucks must be off site by the time people enter. There’s no room for under-order or over-order, as storage space is limited. Daily attendances that can vary from 60,000 to 100,000 add to the challenge.
What we did
Facing these challenges comes down to three things - planning, practice and experience. Several Showground team members have worked on more than a few Shows, so their experience is invaluable. A flexible structure, so all staff know their roles and responsibilities but are also empowered to adapt to new or unexpected situations, is also encouraged. Practice and planning begins up to six months in advance with over 55 suppliers. Menus are designed around seasonal choices, ensuring both availability of produce and tastier results for diners.
The most special touch is also the Showground team’s greatest point of difference. The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW is home to the Sydney Royal Fine Food Awards, meaning their kitchens are stocked with only the highest quality, freshest produce from around the country. Showcasing these hero ingredients is what they do best. As a result, seasonal menus, including drinks, are a carefully curated culinary adventure that highlight the rich diversity of modern Australian dining.