17 Jul 2018
Icon - Day in the Life

Working with Michelin-starred chefs at Royal Ascot

When David Buskie received an email asking if he’d like to work alongside two-Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan during Royal Ascot week in June, he quickly leapt at the chance. With the Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events summer season in full swing, it’s not just the customers who are having the time of their lives.

“It’s not every day you get the chance to work alongside one of your heroes,” admits David Buskie, Sodexo’s head chef at Hampden Park stadium, Scotland’s National Stadium. “It was really exciting to spend the week at Royal Ascot and without a doubt the best team I’ve ever worked with in my entire career.”

Raymond Blanc, David Buskie

David runs award-winning match day hospitality at the stadium and a year-round successful conference and banqueting business. He was sous chef at Hampden Park for five years before becoming head chef, and was named Chef of the Year for Sodexo’s Sports & Leisure segment in 2016.

When he answered the call to be one of two Sodexo chefs in Simon Rogan’s team of 12 catering in the Royal Enclosure and The Green Yard restaurants, David was confident he could bring a level of expertise. “As contract caterers we’re used to delivering a large number of covers every day so we could bring that experience to help manage the service efficiently,” says David.

David Buskie with Simon Rogan

The team served up to 475 covers each day. “By day two we were absolutely flying. Simon’s people are super talented and super organised – both front and back-of-house.”

Although they worked from 6am to midnight for six straight days, David’s lasting memories will be of the quality of the food they produced as a team rather than the physical demands.

“It was a hard week, really tough, but just an amazing experience,” he says. ‘Nothing went out to a customer that wasn’t 100%; it was precision cooking and as a perfectionist in the kitchen that made me proud.”

David was greatly encouraged to see how he and his fellow Sodexo chefs were confident performing alongside Michelin star names. “We have some outstanding chefs in the Sodexo business and the food we cooked will help us excel at our own venues and move the menus to the next level,” he says.

“At Royal Ascot we were serving a main course of a beautiful fillet of beef with textures of turnip and a red wine jus – simple classic dishes like this are perfect for customers at the stadium. At the end of the day it’s all about high quality ingredients combined with solid cooking.”

Now back at Hampden Park, David is continuing with the stadium’s own summer season, which includes a conference and banqueting offer, music concerts (they’ve recently welcomed Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé), planning for a ‘showcase’ event in August and, of course, future match days. “We have a range of hospitality packages and at the top end that covers a champagne reception, private box and four-course meal.” says David. “Everything is cooked fresh and we always look to use local Scottish produce.”

David has kept in touch with Simon Rogan and his Royal Ascot team and has been invited to his riverside two-Michelin-starred restaurant L’Enclume, in the village of Cartmel in Cumbria. There he’ll take a tour of the gardens where the restaurant’s red fruit and veg are grown. “Simon shook my hand at the end of the week and said: ‘You’ve been absolutely brilliant.’ I have been really inspired by the experience and made some friends for life.”

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