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Catering to a ‘tee’

Extended service and a traditional  menu of members’ favourites has given Frilford Heath Golf Club a reputation for food that’s always above par.

When catering manager Stuart Wood arrived at  Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxfordshire over thirteen years ago, the club served a basic snack menu with limited service. Today,  Stuart’s team of three chefs and two porters can do up to 300 covers a day teeing off with breakfast at  7.45am followed by lunch, afternoon tea and a main menu up to 5.30pm.

The transformation of the club’s catering to a full daily service has been due to understanding the needs of the silver market and a conservative clientele. With an average age of 68, Stuart realised quality traditional favourites were what the members wanted.

The club’s revised menu has been key in raising Frilford’s game and Stuart began by looking carefully at the club’s regular patrons when selecting dishes. One of his best selling dishes is steak and kidney pudding made with an onion suet crust. Frilford Chicken is also a firm favourite, consisting of a chicken breast stuffed and wrapped in parma ham and served with a brandy sauce. Traditional puddings are hugely popular with fruity crumbles and pies being constant menu winners.

Since members are regular diners, variety is important too so weekly specials are set which include a soup and pie of the week; simple fast food like sandwiches are always available.

The trick, says Stuart, is doing the basics well. “By offering a well-thought out breakfast menu for example, the golfing fraternity now know that they can get a good breakfast at Frilford. Locally, we are renowned for our bacon bap.”

Frilford’s reputation for consistency and quality has also allowed the club to move into the lucrative wedding business. It has developed a wedding menu that offers guests a choice of nine starters, main courses and desserts.

With regular diners and a demanding number of daily cover over a long service period, Stuart and his team would struggle without the dedicated service and support of their longterm supplier, Holdsworth.

At Frilford, Stuart has to plan his menus every October for the year ahead and stick to a set budget. To make this work, Stuart finds it essential to have a good supplier. Holdsworth, he says, are “absolutely brilliant – really helpful with constant support and ideas”. He has particular praise for his account manager Sue Caley who he says manages the account superbly and ensures there are never any supply issues.

“With Holdsworth we are made aware of any supply issues at the point of order meaning there are no nasty surprises when the order comes. Any availability issues are immediately nipped in the bud which is essential for us,” explains Stuart.

With catering that now matches its championship standard golf course status, Frilford has seen its society visitor numbers grow. Today, its carefully targeted and well-planned menu  is a real draw for golfers who want to play an excellent course and enjoy hospitality that’s always above par.

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