Resort feeds masses of golf fans in Greenbrier style (VIDEO)
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jeremy Critchfield seems undaunted by the prospect of feeding 30,000 to 50,000 people a day. They're the golf players, spectators, volunteers and PGA officials who will work up a hunger on the course of The Greenbrier Classic's peak days -- July 29 to Aug. 1.
In addition to preparing food for concession and for sponsor tents along the Old White course, The Greenbrier's culinary staff will operate the resort's 10 signature restaurants and will cater a dizzying number of evening events and celebrations.
The challenges will test the 500-member food and beverage staff, who will be joined by a force of volunteers for the tournament. They'll prepare about 5 tons of food every day. Critchfield, who is vice president of food and beverage and corporate chef, worked with executive chef Richard Rosendale to develop the event menus. They decided to stick with The Greenbrier's tried and true items on the golf course menu boards, and won't alter the existing restaurant menus for the hotel guests.
Ten concession sites of varying sizes were added to the grounds to feed the anticipated crowds. The three concessions located farthest away from the first hole are drinks and dry snacks only, featuring The Greenbrier's Peach Iced Tea. "Even if they're all the way out, we want to keep them refreshed and hydrated," Critchfield said.
The other concessions feature foods representative of the resort's restaurants. There's a prime rib sandwich, made from hand-cut beef from Prime 44 West; sushi rolls from In-Fusion Asian restaurant in the casino, a barbecue chicken sandwich inspired by the barbecue served at Kate's Mountain Lodge, burgers like those served at Draper's Café, and a peach dessert that's a combination of the famous Greenbrier peaches and cream and the bread pudding.
Most of the food items are priced between $5 and $8, except for the prime rib sandwich that will run $12-$14. "It's worth it, though. I'll probably eat at least a few of those next week," Critchfield said.
The best value on the concession menu has to be the fried green tomato sandwich, prepared ala Draper's Café. For $1.75, the sandwich features a fried green tomato, field greens and goat's cheese dressed with a black pepper aioli.
"Mr. Justice wanted to do something along the lines of the pimento cheese sandwich always served at the Masters," Critchfield said of The Greenbrier's owner Jim Justice. "He doesn't want to nickel-and-dime people with this event."
The tomatoes for those sandwiches, along with about 80 percent of the produce used by in the resort's kitchens, will be harvested from plants at The Greenbrier Farm. In its first season, the 40-acre farm produces greens, cucumbers, onion, zucchini, squash and sweet corn for the resort. The watermelon should ripen just in time for the tournament.
The farm's about 50 minutes away from the resort, so the produce travels from field to resort in two refrigerated box trucks.
"I've been a proponent of farm-to-table for years," Critchfield said. "This is the ultimate. We choose what to plant and pick them at their peak. We control the whole process."
Diners fortunate to have passes to sponsor tents and skyboxes will naturally have other options. They'll nibble on classic crab Louis, smoked brisket, smoked salmon and beef tenderloin.
"The first four days, we'll focus on the highlights from our restaurants," he said. "The last three days, we'll be pulling out all the stops. It will be the best of The Greenbrier."
In addition to old favorites, guests can sample Justice's newest favorite chocolate chip cookie, delivered in a commemorative tournament sleeve. Justice sampled and critiqued at least a dozen versions of the cookie before settling on his choice. The secret recipe's in a secure location.
Food quality is Critchfield's primary concern, but logistical details also occupy him.
"We have to consider start and stop times, have staff in place, when to deliver food, coordinate trash removal, and laundry delivery and pick up of table linens," he said. "We have 500,000 bottles of water that need to arrive on site refrigerated and ready to drink."
Even the labels on those half-a-million water bottles are important. "I've been told that people think the design on the labels is a signature of the resort. Guests keep their empty bottles, take them home and refill them," he said.
For guests who don't keep the bottles, there are recycling bins along the golf course.
The Greenbrier Classic PGA Golf Tournament runs July 29 to Aug. 1. For ticket information, visit: www.greenbrierclassic.com
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.