Top of the table
- Credit: Archant
Norwich City has been named the favourite away day experience in a national award. So what’s it like to cater for the crowds at Carrow Road on match day?
For generations, the traditional pre-match fare for football supporters was restricted to a meat pie from a takeaway stall. That was until match day became a gourmet experience - and leading the way is Norwich City’s own Carrow Road.
Norwich City FC - which hosts crowds of up to 27,000 on match days - has won the Directors’ Choice Award at the Stadium Events and Hospitality Awards, with directors from each club voting for their best away day experience. Against tough competition from the likes of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, Norwich City took the premier position, and catering general manager Stuart Cox accepted the award on behalf of Norwich City and Delia’s Canary Catering.
Of course, it’s got to be an advantage having the extraordinary talents and passion of cookery writer and TV broadcaster Delia Smith behind both the club and its food and drink offering. Delia has supported Norwich City FC since the 1970s, joining the board of directors in 1996 at a time when the club’s finances were in a precarious state.
She, and her husband Michael, helped stabilise the club and Delia made it her mission to boost “off-field” ways of bringing money, and the support of the local community, into the club - such as Delia’s Canary Catering. The club now boasts her own restaurant, Delia’s, open Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Yellows American bar and grill, serving 250 on match days.
Across the stadium there are 15 main restaurants and lounges where food is served and that’s not including executive boxes. All of the catering activities are completed in-house, unusual for a stadium.
A new executive loung for this season is The Boardroom. Serving a three-course hot buffet lunch with an exclusive interview with a member of football management or the board. Also new this year is air-con, PA system and seats behind glass for those opting for the Top of the Terrace restaurant, and for The Legends there is now a champagne reception hosted by former Canaries captain Adam Drury with an interview with a first team player.
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Norwich’s match day planning starts as soon as the coming year’s fixture list is revealed. Menus will start to be planned once the old season has finished and new packages created for the coming season. There are 12 main menus to written per match, which are then approved, tested and emailed out to customers two weeks before each match. A fortnight prior to the game, menu packs are created with recipes. The food is ordered in three or four days before the match, and the menus are prepared in the two days leading up to the game, leaving just the final bits of cooking and assembling to do on the match day. Final numbers and dietary requirements are collated the week of the match and fed back to the kitchens, so the finer details can be catered for.
Staffing is the next step in the planning of a match day. There are 16 full-time chefs, but on a match day 50 chefs and kitchen assistants are needed to run all nine kitchens. and serve more than 1500 guests in a three hour window running up to the kick-off.