More than 330 members of the catering team and 1,150 casual staff have been deployed to serve food to the thousands of guests attending International Race Day. Under the leadership of Sha Tin racecourse catering manager Kurt Schwartz, all these guests are to be well taken care of and no one is to leave hungry. At the members-only Jockey Club Box and Paddock Restaurant, decadent buffets will be served to 6,000 club members and their guests, including stewards, dignitaries, tycoons and the club's chairman Ronald Arculli. 'If it's good enough for [the chairman], it's good enough for everyone else,' contends Jean Pierre Vue, food and beverage manager of the western kitchen. So these buffets are obviously no ordinary fare. Each of them features a line-up of live cooking counters churning out dozens of dishes, including freshly shucked oysters, top-notch sashimi and sushi, tossed-to-order salads and roast United States rib of beef. The spread of appetisers and mains includes international delights ranging from trio of salmon with blinis, sour cream, red onions and horseradish to potted duck-liver mousse with port wine jelly; and from oven-roasted spring chicken with figs in red-wine sauce to tandoori lamb. These are followed by an assortment of cheeses served with apricot bread, nuts, young carrots and grapes, as well as desserts. A cook-out station will become a focal point as it bursts out flames from time to time to churn out the golden pineapple Kahlua flambe. The buffets are pork-free to ensure guests of the Islamic faith can eat without concern. 'The 36 hours prior to the event are very busy; if I was to invite you to the kitchen in the morning [of the races], you would see chaos,' says Bruno Burg, executive chef of the western kitchen and mastermind behind the buffets. 'But it's organised chaos. Everyone is very busy but they all know what they are doing.' While Mr Burg is busy putting the final touches to the food, restaurants and training manager Mei Choi is occupied with hairstyles. She is responsible for training the serving staff and making sure they are presentable enough to serve the honourable guests. Another busy bee is Peter Choi, food and beverage manager (trackside catering). Under his jurisdiction are the public outlets, which include self-service restaurants, kiosks and a food court. They are expected to serve 40,000 people today. With that kind of capacity, Mr Choi not only has to be organised, he also has to be computerised. 'Each recipe is in the computer. The chef needs only to input the quantity he needs to produce and the program will calculate how much of each ingredient is required,' he explains. 'That way, we can make sure all the dishes maintain consistency in taste.' For International Day, about 120 types and 68,300 units of food will be available from Mr Choi's outlets. Should the number of people exceed expectations, a 'buffer stock' can handle additional demand. Mr Choi's job expanded last year with the opening of MezzaOne, an area inside the grandstands that includes a food court and two media halls equipped with custom-designed betting stations, cutting-edge audio-visual facilities and comfortable theatre chairs. With an area equivalent to five basketball courts and the capacity to house up to 612 people at one sitting, MezzaOne features 13 branded food stalls operated by Mr Choi's team and three contracted to McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Movenpick. Among these stalls, the one that always sees a long queue is Sizzling Wok, which features a showcase kitchen in which four chefs churn out piping hot dishes that go well with rice and congee. Those who love curries are in for a treat. Visiting chef Apichart Munbupachart, who has extensive experience working for top hotels in Bangkok, is flying in to spice up the Curry King stall. Curry dishes to be served are Malaysian beef brisket curry, Thai chicken red curry, Thai pork massaman curry and grilled Indonesian-style fish fillet. Other counters include My Favourite Noodles, Taiwan Yong He, The Hot Dog and Timeless Dessert. The Sha Tin racecourse's Chinese outlets - including The Pak Sing Restaurant, which is open to the public, and two members' and two owners' boxes - will be serving set menus specially designed for the day. 'We are expecting full capacity, and set menus are the way to serve everyone promptly; but since the Chinese outlets have a limited capacity, [International Day] will not be that different a day for the Chinese team,' says Jane Lapus, the food and beverage manager on the Chinese side. She is not taking things lightly, however. In the past three months, she has worked closely with Chan Lai-kwong, the Jockey Club's recently appointed executive chef for the Chinese kitchen, to come up with more than 100 new dishes for the management's taste tests, and many of these are on the set menus. Diligent staff aside, smooth operations in the kitchen also have much to do with the Jockey Club's generous investments in kitchen equipment, which includes six gigantic soup pots that can prepare 1,440 litres of liquid at one go, fully computerised ovens and a refrigeration system. On top of that are the kitchen's own smokehouses and sausage makers. 'Hong Kong Jockey Club is among the few horse-racing authorities in the world that do their own catering,' Mr Vue says. 'Many others in the world contract to outside caterers. They can never offer the variety that we have here.' Given that horse racing is such an important facet of this city, it is only fair to have good food to go with it.