Keeping Score at Sports Authority Field at Mile High

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Obviously Peyton Manning and the Broncos team garners LOTS of attention on game day; and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But what happens before, during and after the game for our own Epicurean/Broncos team is something to brag about. If we were the type to brag, that is.

We’ve been the exclusive premier concessionaire at SAF for over 20 years. That’s a lot of football. It’s also a lot of work. And a LOT of fun. What does it take to make game day a winner (at least off the field – we can only do SO much!)? Well, the numbers don’t lie:

  • 1800 pounds of prime rib, tenderloin, strip loin, turkeys and rotisserie chickens (all leftovers are donated to We Don’t Waste) to feed guests in –
  • 133 suites during each game which leads to the clean up of over –
  • 600 hotel pans and –
  • 1000 sheet pans which are par for the course for our –
  • 150 employees on site each game day; they can often be found in our  –
  • 1450 square feet of walk in refrigerator storage – the envy of every chef that’s every seen it. We use every single inch during the busy season which includes –
  • 220 special events including corporate parties and weddings. To get geared up we spend –
  • 3 weeks of traveling nationally and internationally during the off season, allowing our chefs and leadership team to research new trends. And by ‘research; we mean eat and drink our way across the globe. Not a bad gig. By sampling foods in different regions of the country, we can customize game day menus to reflect the opposing team. Think fish tacos when we play the San Diego Chargers; fried ravioli for the St. Louis Rams. Tackling all of this takes –
  • Unlimited amounts of energy and stamina to tackle the 1.7 million square feet of space at the stadium which seats over 76,000 fans, not including us – the biggest fans you’ll find.

Your Wedding Day (and what could be the biggest mistake of your life).

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My colorful career past includes a stint as a wedding coordinator at a private club. It was great fun, actually, and allowed me to learn the importance of interacting with a variety of personalities, including The Mother of the Bride and (and this is putting it kindly) The Difficult Chef. It also taught me that running up and down vintage parquet floors in pretty-but-unpractical shoes will come back to hurt me in the future. And it taught me to over-prepare for basically everything.

I checked and double checked with florists, bakers, photographers, and bands. I set a mock-table as an example for the servers. I reminded The Difficult Chef that The Mother of the Bride hated garlic almost as much as The Difficult Chef hated weddings. My one major mistake? Not checking the football schedule.

As a wedding planner, getting a call marked urgent from The Best Man causes a panic. Surely this means The Groom has really cold feet … or a really hot girlfriend. But, alas, no. The Best Man was calling to ask that the members only bar in the club be open so everyone could watch The Big Game. I, of course, said of course! I thought The Bride must be a Huge Football Fan or so blind with love for The Groom that she was willing to sacrifice the one day in her entire life that is totally and completely about her. So, I made the magic happen and had those bar doors flung open, votive candles lit, cocktails at the ready, and the big screen tuned in to the Tennessee game. When the guests arrived, they were like bees to honey. When The Mother of the Bride arrived, she looked like she could spit. Oops.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece on this very topic and my memories of that wedding day mishap surfaced. I will say the bartenders were ecstatic, considering Tennessee won and the majority of over-served guests, including The Father of the Bride, were generously tipping. The WSJ suggests avoiding game day weddings all together, but there are only so many Saturdays for a girl to choose from.

At Epicurean, we embrace football season. After all, we are the premier catering partner at Sports Authority Field. Nice work if you can get it, right? And we got it. So when we are faced with an event that coincides with football – either pro or college – we offer our clients options. Want to pretend football isn’t happening on your big day? No problem! Want to weave it into your event? We’re ON it.

Some ideas for balancing The Big Game and The Big Day:

Provide Regular Updates:

Our servers have been asked (often) to keep tabs on football scores and report them frequently but discreetly to their assigned tables. This eliminates the need for guests to continue to check their cell phones or – worse – search for an out-of-the-way television.

Have a Halftime Huddle:

Epicurean designers oversee the timing of an event; and we often take into account the halftime break. Use this break in play for something major, like the first dance, dinner or a nice, gushy toast to The Mother of the Bride.

Offer “Tickets” to a Private Suite:

Set up a mini-suite at the wedding venue, complete with cozy couches, snacks, cocktails and live coverage of the game. Worried about guests coming and not going? Use place cards as a “suite ticket” – and once they use their ticket for a drink, it’s time to head back to the wedding celebration.

Be A Team Player:

Serve a signature cocktail, like Epicurean’s OrangeCrushCicle, or have cookies shaped liked footballs as a takeaway gift. Use the groom’s cake as a fun way to acknowledge a favorite team.

At the end of the day, hosting your wedding on game day doesn’t have to be a major fumble. Getting between The Mother of the Bride and The Difficult Chef? Leave that on the sidelines.