Simon Whitley, Director of Food & Beverage at The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews flies out to Augusta National today (Thursday, April 7) to help deliver the Champion’s Cocktail Party at the US Masters after the world’s most famous green jacket has been donned on Sunday evening.
Following an invitation from Augusta’s Director of Culinary Operations Bruce Sacino, Simon will join Bruce as “the only Brit” in the team of chefs working on one of the most exclusive and prestigious cocktail receptions on the golfing calendar.
It is the second year running that Simon’s presence has been requested and he is “deeply honoured” by the invitation, saying: “I must have done something right last year!”
Simon says he is a little nervous, but explains: “It is a good thing – it would be wrong not to be, given the occasion.” The menu for the event is based on finger-fork foods of past champions’ dinners at the US Masters and will be delivered across six canapé stations.
“We have all worked hard on creating an exceptional menu that is not only designed to satisfy the appetites of the members of the world’s most exclusive club, but also reads like a who’s who of golf,” he adds.
“There’s Mike Weir’s Lobster in Puff Pastry with Saffron and Vanilla Aioli, Tiger Woods’ Steak & Chicken Fajitas, Vijay Singh’s Chilean Sea Bass with Three Flavour Chilli Sauce, Zach Johnson’s Seared Ahi Tuna, Angel Cabrera’s Empanadas de Carne e Pollo, Trevor Immelman’s Chicken Sosaties, Phil Mickelson’s Slow-Cooked Barbecue Brisket and for the sweet-toothed, Nick Faldo’s Ginger Sponge and Ian Woosnam’s Apple Pie & Ice Cream!”
Simon is the envy of his colleagues at St Andrews but explains, “It will be hard work, but there is no denying the opportunity to be at the event is an enormous privilege – walking the course last year and standing at Amen Corner is a never-to-be-forgotten experience.”
The ingredients for the party are being sourced by Bruce in Augusta – but Simon will be taking one ingredient from The Old Course Hotel as a taster and treat for his American counterparts.
“Jigger Ale!” Simon smiles, adding: “The Ale is brewed exclusively for the Resort’s Jigger Inn by Belhaven – so I feel it is only right to take a taster from the world’s most famous 19th hole to be enjoyed by the Augusta National members.”
Daniel Pereira, General Manager at the five red star Resort says: “The Old Course Hotel has won many awards and accolades for its food and service over the years, but an event such as this is very special – not only for the credence it gives to the Resort but most importantly for the recognition it gives to Simon. We are all extremely proud of him. It is his dream that St Andrews should not only be known as the Home of Golf but also as the home of the very best in Scottish food and drink so to be invited back to Augusta to help deliver what has to be the most exclusive party in golf is an incredible testimony to his skill as well as his outstanding reputation in the industry.”