Sustainable Event Catering With Chef Ruairí
France. A former Beatle. Fly fishing. Gaelgeoirí. History. An intriguing family story. These are just some of the topics that occur during a fascinating, far ranging “who knew” chat with Ruairí Boyce, Executive Chef at Croke Park.
Amongst many accomplishments, Ruairí is a fluent speaker of Irish, a history buff and an aspiring fly fisherman. His culinary roots emerge from a large Dublin family where everything was cooked and baked from scratch and he still calls his Ma to double-check ingredients when he’s baking the family brown bread - the secret, apparently, is “cold hands, warm heart”.
This is Ruairí's second stint at Croke Park. He was here in the early noughties for a couple of years after playing a key role cooking for Ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney on the occasion of his Irish wedding in 2002. Following many happy intervening years at Hilton in the UK, Scotland and Belgium where, he says, the training was exceptional, he’s back at the stadium helm, overseeing kitchens that cater for up to 80,000 guests! You don’t need to ask Ruairí if he’s happy in his role. The energy, passion and belief in what he’s doing are self-evident as is his collegial, team approach to leadership. For Ruairí the whole is ever greater than the sum of the parts and attitude always trumps ability.
Ruairí leads a team at Croke Park that’s intent on challenging the notion that stadium cuisine is mere comfort food, served fast and furious, appealing to the lowest common denominator. Delivering great match day food on capacity days first requires great ingredients and then military like planning and precision in the preparation and service. But with multi-awards and accolades to their name, Ruairí’s team are already way ahead of the challenge. On non match days, the team is also responsible for designing memorable food experiences for a highly discerning meetings and events audience. Sustainable sourcing of seasonal ingredients is now a critial element in this.
“Part of the appeal of the role here” says Ruairí, “is that we’re catering for a broad demographic, both rural and urban, traditional and adventurous, mass appeal and heavily bespoke. But there’s one golden thread linking everything: the provenance of our product. It’s all sourced as locally as possible from suppliers with whom we’re on first name terms. Farm to fork may be a bit of a gastronomic cliché but it’s the aspiration and inspiration for all we do”.
Ruairí is justifiably delighted with the catering team’s contribution to how Croke Park has re-imagined its meetings and events offering. “Food has become central to the meetings and events experience all over the world and that’s grist to our mill” says Ruairí. “Increasingly we’re challenged to design new culinary experiences for events and that creates a great team buzz here. Our new Stadium Street Food
menu is going down a treat and we’re still refining our bowl food concept so that it’s more than just a convenient event solution but connected back to real gastronomy at Croke Park”.
And what about the intriguing family story? That can only be related face-to-face so next time you’re running an event at Croke Park ask Ruairí to fill you in. I promise, you’ll be truly amazed!
Read more in our Catering team blog, check out catering at Croke Park Meetings & Events or contact us to discuss catering at your events.