Team of a thousand lays on intimate dinner for 5,400
Monday 24 January 1994
Martin Joyce, the catering manager at Gardner Merchant Town and County, faced 5,400 diners at Earls Court in London last night with the support of 800 waiters and waitresses, 128 chefs and 120 porters.
It was Britain's second largest sit-down dinner - the biggest was in 1925 for 8,000 Freemasons at Olympia to raise pounds 1m for a war memorial. Last night was Ford and Fiat's celebration of the success of their joint agricultural machinery venture, New Holland.
Mr Joyce was unfazed by the logistical nightmare. 'I do the catering at Wimbledon each year. This is just a little winter job for me,' he said. He might have added that his company also caters for Battersea Dogs Home.
Earls Court's number two exhibition hall was transformed from aircraft hangar to dining suite. The hall was divided into eight areas, each served by its own kitchen and team of waiting staff. Each area manager was linked by radio to a central control manager who synchronised the serving from a gantry above the hall.
The transformation cost more money than the organisers cared to say. 'The food bill alone runs well into six figures,' a spokesman said. Add to that the cost of the drink, the flower arrangements, flying in New Holland staff from all over the world and the after-dinner entertainment (Ray Charles, the soul singer).
Malcolm Emery, the executive chef, said that his staff began chopping up the shallots and garlic last Monday. 'We've had to poach, hollow and stuff 5,500 pears. It's been a mega difficult job.'
No, he had never done anything on this scale before, he said. And, yes, he would like to do it again. 'I hope so, I fancy breaking the record, actually.'
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 5 UK weather: 'Coldest night of the year' tonight as freezing temperatures plummet to -10C
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...