We spoke to Thomas Rhodes, Twickenham Stadium's executive head chef, about Tom Kerridge, locally sourced produce, and how the East Stand will change the perception of stadium food
The plans for the East Stand
have always been about offering something new. This is true of both the space and the food. The guys at Twickenham Stadium
want to give their guests a new and memorable experience that pushes the boundaries of what stadia catering entails. Hopefully this will make guests re-address their assumptions of what Twickenham
has to offer. The East Stand menus are certainly the stadium’s most experimental to date and the team says it’s proud of the creativity and passion that has gone into producing them.
It’s inevitable that people will be drawn to the venue because of its sporting heritage, but the kitchen team at Twickenham
wants guests to see it in a new light and be attracted by the culinary offering, too.
We asked Thomas Rhodes, executive head chef at Twickenham
what bookers – and their guests – can expect:
So what’s new and unusual?
On match days, in particular, the catering team will always aim to provide a nod to England’s opponents. This involves sourcing specific cuts of meat that are popular in that country or offering a traditional dish from that nation.
Some new and unusual menus have also been added, which aim to make event organisers think a little differently. The manapé (‘manly’ canapés) menu, for example, offers a more substantial entrée that caters for a larger appetite. It moves away from dainty appetisers by offering more hearty alternatives. Similarly, the gentlemen’s afternoon tea expands on the traditional expectations of a mid-afternoon meal, by offering sandwiches and appetisers alongside the finest Scottish whiskeys.
Talk us through the process of creating the new menus
We started researching the new East Stand menus two years ago and we’ve used that lead time to really understand what is out in the market and see how we can improve on it. For example, in order to create our ultimate ‘Twickenham burger’, my team and I have sampled more than 30 burgers to ensure we can meet, and exceed, expectations.
The menus we offer are diverse – reflecting the locations within which they are served. The East Stand’s 6,700sqm of space is divided between six floors and among its offerings are a chop house-style restaurant, ale house, intimate dining experiences as well as a rooftop terrace with a pizza oven and rotisserie-style cuisine. By providing such different catering options and settings, the hope is that organisers will host each element of their event in a different space and create new and varied experiences for each.
Are there particular themes running through the food?
Throughout our journey we always aim to celebrate Twickenham’s
English heritage and this means seeking English suppliers and the best of English produce. We have a keen focus on the seasonality of our ingredients and take full advantage of using produce that is at its best.
An increasing amount of the general public is becoming more aware of how and where their food is sourced and shows an interest in its journey. Homegrown produce is certainly a favoured option.
What are some of your personal highlights from the new menus?
Each of the levels include dishes that are personal highlights!
Within the Gate, the steaks are incredible, from the sourcing of the beef (from farms in Yorkshire) to the overall size of them. We are using cuts we wouldn’t normally use: T-bone, Porterhouse, and bone-in striploin.
The Lock excites me with the Tom Kerridge influence. He is a chef I have admired for a while and have enjoyed eating at his restaurants, so I am really looking forward to his dishes being present at Twickenham
In the East Wing my favourite dish is the lobster, langoustine and sea trout mezzelune. This dish is fresh, colourful and fragrant.
In the Rose garden, I love the pizza oven – the smell of freshly cooked dough always brings a smile to my face!
What do you feel will be the secret behind the East Stand’s culinary success?
Throughout the East Stand project we’ve aimed to always create something new and different. However, the reason the food stands out is that we always use produce that we love and that excites us. This ensures we’re always producing the best dishes and do the ingredients justice.