Meet Richard and Sam at Croke Park Meetings and Events
Google ‘Catering’ and you get … provide people with food and drink at a social event or other gathering… Sound a bit cold? Experience Catering at Croke Park Meetings & Events with our team and you will get a much warmer feeling …
The Meetings & Events team is your first point of contact when you are considering holding a meeting, gala dinner or other event at Croke Park. Once we get into the nitty gritty, though, you’ll meet our Catering Team and that’s when the event journey can get really interesting. The team takes you on an amazing culinary journey all over the world - Asian and Mexican Street Food presentations are as popular at Croke Park these days as prime rib and roast potatoes!
The Catering Team is responsible for everything from drinks and burgers on match days to gastronomic feasts on those truly special occasions. They’re a global bunch too with China, Australia and Italy well represented among the senior management team.
The Dalian Wolfhounds is northeast China's only Gaelic Football team, keeping the GAA flag flying high in Manchuria since 2005. We’re proud to have Richard Li, a native of that city (population a mere 6 million) on the team here at Croke Park for the past 10 years.
Richard is Deputy General Manager on the Catering side so he has his finger in many pies. He mentions the launch event of October 2015 as the moment when all the stars aligned and Croke Park Meetings & Events really found its mojo as a unified team of world class event professionals. “The brand got a refresh at that time and the new tag line ‘Let’s make this brilliant’ became the measure of everything we did. Suddenly the sales and operations team, the catering team, the AV team were all pulling together as one”.
Sam Brancato, Hospitality Operations Manager at the stadium, is Italo-Australian and has a personal passion for nurturing young talent. “We need access to a large pool of casual staff” he explained, “as, depending on the day, we might be catering for anything from 800 to 80,000 guests”. Sam established “The 3% Club” – the percentage of the average population that engages in self-improvement – to give casual staff the opportunity to extend and expand their service skills and become true hospitality professionals.
The Catering Team is all about quality food and exceptional service. Both Richard and Sam agree that you can’t have one without the other. “Whether it’s a match-day hot dog or a Gala Dinner Noisette of Lamb, the ingredients must be top quality, the preparation must be top quality, the cooking must be top quality and it must be delivered to the guest with professional efficiency and a genuine, warm smile”.
Food is becoming increasingly central to great event experiences and Croke Park Meetings & Events is very much on trend in this regard. “Guests at meetings and events these days expect to be surprised and delighted by the food offering” said Richard “so we’re constantly showcasing new menu items. I particularly love the casual bowl food options we do and the Crawfish Risotto is my absolute favourite. But just because it’s served casually in a bowl doesn’t mean it’s not gourmet!”
Stadium Street Food, too, is another popular option for meetings and events. “We’re able to create the full street scape too with stalls and artisan booths and the chefs take centre stage and bring a little drama to your meeting or event”, said Sam.
And who would have guessed…
Catering professionals have a laser focus on details but Sam Brancato confesses to being obsessive compulsive. He wears “lucky” red underwear to important meetings, follows typical Southern Italian superstitions and insists that his lawn is cut from East to West.
Not to be outdone, Richard Li is a collectionist and has over 200 Sports Jerseys in his collection including 5 Dublin GAA jerseys. He collects destination mugs and will only purchase flat pack furniture as he doesn’t trust anyone else to build it!
Read more about the Croke Park Meetings & Events Team
Read more about Catering at Croke Park