Hong Kong Open: feeding the fanatics out on the fairways
- The planning behind the Hong Kong Open’s food needs are staggering, hundreds of employees feeding thousands of guests on a daily basis
- All of this handled by the JW Marriott Hong Kong, out on the golf course, ‘building restaurants on site’, less than two months after Typhoon Mangkhut ravished the grounds
Since 2006, JW Marriott Hong Kong has been handling the daunting task of feeding everyone at the Hong Kong Open, as Philippe Mauron said “building restaurants on site”.
Mauron, the director of food & beverage for the JW Marriott Hong Kong, said he was getting about four hours sleep each night as he oversees more than 100 staffers feeding more than a 1,000 people a day.
All of this outside the hotel, smack dab in the middle of the golf course, which feels like it would be a logistical hurricane given the hotel is physically in Admiralty some 50 kilometres away.
“You have the chaos that you have in any restaurant at any location, but it takes on a totally different dimension here because you’re on your own. Suddenly if you have peak moments, and you don’t have staff, you can’t take them from another outlet.”
The Hong Kong Open is celebrating its 60th year, an event that attracts close to 50,000 spectators over five days in Fanling. Kicking off the European Tour, the tournament has become Hong Kong’s marquee golf event and requires the Hong Kong Golf Club to scale up in preparation.
Complicating things this year was the clean-up from Typhoon Mangkhut, which ripped through the three courses and took down more than 1,000 trees, putting organisers on their back heels when it comes to preparation.
Mauron said there’s months of planning that goes into each year, starting with picking the menu alongside tournament organisers.
Executive chef Tony Wong, who oversees 40 staff members at the Open, said he was getting up at 1am each morning, if that even constitutes morning, and then is prepping and cooking on site, while coordinating moving the food from the hotel to the grounds.
“Every year presents its own different challenges,” said Wong, who is preparing meals that have five courses for certain marquees. “Just getting the electrical set up, the power to cook is a challenge in itself. And we go from there.”
Mark Siu, the assistant banquet manager, who starts at 2am each morning, and is also getting about four hours a sleep a night, said controlling more than 80 staff members, and sending vehicles back and forth between the hotel and the course, can seem overwhelming.
“The first breakfast we serve is at 5am, and from there it doesn’t stop all day.”
Mauron said at the end of the day, they have to be perfect, and they don’t get a second chance.
“The guests don’t want to hear your problems, they’re here to have a good time and eat good food, so there is no room for error, ever, especially in this setting.”