News and Features

Lessons from the pandemic

We chat to the Dining at Glyndebourne team about the lessons they've learned from the pandemic.

We spoke to David Simms, Culinary Director and Victoria Robertson, Venue Director for Dining at Glyndebourne to discuss the lessons learnt from the pandemic.
Read on to find out how they’ll be using these to propel them forward in 2021 to enhance the customer experience at Glyndebourne.
What challenges have the team had to overcome in order to continue delivering excellent food and drink throughout the pandemic?

Victoria: With the ever-changing restrictions, a lot of what we have delivered has had to be turned around very quickly. Knowing what we have in our armoury and working to adapt these has been both challenging and rewarding.

David: Social distancing has been key, providing a comfortable yet safe dining environment for guests. With the pandemic, we’ve also had the luxury of time to develop a new strategy and evolving our menus has been at the forefront of this.

What new innovations have you developed, at Glyndebourne, to tackle the challenges presented by COVID-19?

Victoria: One offering we launched directly as a result of the restrictions was an Afternoon Tea picnic, this became so popular that we have added it to our picnics menu as ongoing for 2021.

David: We launched a ‘Ring for Champagne’ app – where customers can order champagne on the day of the festival via their mobiles, which will continue into 2021. We also continued to evolve our culinary offering with less of a focus on sharing and more of a focus on individually portioned options.

How have the menus at Glyndebourne evolved over the past year?

David: We’ve been focusing on the Best of our British classics, introducing fantastic comfort foods after really listening to what our customers want. Additionally, we’ve added more displays and live theatre with food, and added more choice with local seasonal produce – creating a more contemporary offering. We’ve been rethinking the ever-popular classics, creating iconic dishes for iconic moments located in the most iconic location: Glyndebourne.

What new health and safety measures have you introduced into the back of house operations at Glyndebourne?

Victoria: Throughout the Open House Festival, we had to operate in a socially distanced manner. This included less members of our team in areas such as the kitchen and our bar. Once we were allowed to operate back in the restaurants, we introduced a one-way system around the restaurant and in and out of the kitchen. With the changes to the tiering, we had to continually evolve the restaurant layout to cater for single households only, meaning lots of tables of two all socially distanced from each other, which significantly reduced the number of people we could welcome.

Throughout the kitchen and restaurant one-way systems we had sanitiser and hand wash stations in place, all team members wore masks, were temperature checked on arrival, and we kept the number of service items and table visits to a minimum all in order to reduce any chance of virus transmission.

Has it been possible to operate sustainably during the pandemic and what are your plans for the future in this arena?

Victoria: With the increase in take-away packaging, this has been challenging, however we have continued to recycle everything we possibly can with our waste partners, Brighton Paper Round, and have continued to use recyclable or composable packaging. Sustainability is a core value to us, so ensuring we continue to do all we can has been paramount even in light of pandemic restrictions. Alongside working with local suppliers to reduce our carbon footprint, and recycling as much as possible, we introduced some fun menu additions such as edible wafer bowls – for strawberries and cream – to reduce waste further.

David: The pandemic has made us focus more on local suppliers to reduce our carbon footprint and to be as seasonal as possible. Additionally, the flexibility with our new Nether Wallop dining experience, which offers contemporary farm to fork dishes interchanged with modern classics, allows us to hero local suppliers.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Victoria: The Festival going ahead, in my 19 years at Glyndebourne I have never seen the closure of a Festival and I have sincerely missed the buzz, the audience, our teams and the performers. And of course, all the new menus and concepts for 2021 including welcoming the Galvin’s to the Glyndebourne family, and the introduction of a theatre kitchen in Nether Wallop.

What can guests expect this year from a culinary perspective?

David: The Galvin Brothers will be bringing their modern British style to Middle and Over Wallop, Glyndebourne’s fine-dining restaurant. The exclusively curated menu features a selection of signature dishes which guests can also find Michelin-starred restaurant, Galvin La Chapelle.

Also new for this season, Nether Wallop will transform into a flexible dining concept offering contemporary farm to fork fare with plant-based dishes that can be interchanged with modern classics such as potato gratin or gorgeous grains alongside delicious meats like lamb shank and roasted free-range chicken.

Finally, we’ll be offering traditional picnic and Afternoon Teas that can be enjoyed in the gardens.

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