Business

World Cup Football entices foodies

Taka Kuwata of the Marriott. - Don Fennell photo
Taka Kuwata of the Marriott.
— image credit: Don Fennell photo

The escalating excitement of the 2014 World Cup isn’t only inspiring a growing legion of footie fans to view the matches, but also challenging their palates.

In downtown Richmond, thousands of kilometers removed from the epicentre of the beautiful game’s showcase event, a trio of hotels is showing their spirit by adopting one of the 32 participating nations and building their menus around food common in that country.

Having shared best practices for some time, the Hilton, Marriott and Sheraton Vancouver airport hotels—all located adjacent to each other at Westminster Highway and Minoru Boulevard—are again showing their collaborative abilities around one of the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet. As a result, each of the hotels has quickly become a popular hub for soccer, er, football fans wanting to share the excitement for the games with others.

“Fans who are passionate about the sport get to share that in a special and unique environment with others who also have that energy,” says Sanjeet Sadana, director of sales and marketing at the Hilton.

Decorated in corresponding colours and sporting flags of their adopted nations—the Hilton becoming Brazil House, the Marriott Germany House and Sheraton England House during the tournament also affords them a unique opportunity to—at the same time— satisfy their taste buds with authentic dishes from the respective nations.

England House features such traditional British grub as scampi (crispy prawns served with fries and tartar sauce), bangers and mash (grilled English sausages, caramelized onion and mashed potatoes along with gravy and sweet peas), and fish and chips (halibut filets in a pale ale batter sered with tatar sauce and coleslaw). The menu at Germany House includes such fare as grilled bratwurst and kartoffelpuffer (two poached eggs served with a warm pretzel and mustard), spatzle nordsee (shrimp, scallops and crab with riesling cream sauce) and pan-fried wiener schnitzel (breaded kartoffelpuree and gravy). They’re also serving up other popular ethnic dishes.

The most interesting menu will be found at Brazil House, where Hilton executive chef Alex Hancock has come up with such Brazilian-inspired dishes as churrasco skewers (beef, chicken or prawns served with a choice of chimichuri yogurt or piri piri sauce) and pao de queijo (cheese puffs also served with chimichuri yogurt). Among the entrees is moqueca de camaroa or fishermen’s stew, a comforting mixture of prawns with coconut milk and capsicums served with rice. Bolinhos de chuva (donut bites) is an additional sweet treat.

“The philosophy behind the menu was to bring an element of Brazil’s beach food, or at least our interpretation, to Richmond,” says Hancock. “Brazil has a huge beach culture and this food reflects that.

In the week that the menu has been available, the moqueca de camaroa dish—a classic in Brazil—has proven to be a particular favourite with hotel guests.

“While it features peppers, it’s not an overwhelming fireball dish and people love it,” says Hancock.

Hancock says it took a while to come up with a menu he was confident would appeal to the public. He first began exploring possibilities in January, but only finalized the menu a month ago.

“We looked to serve a selection of South American food we felt was the best of the best, and that took time,” he says. “From a creative aspect, this has been unique opportunities of my career.”

Taka Kuwata, food and beverages services manager at the Marriott, says even after just one game featuring Germany the number of patrons to watch games has been encouraging.

“We’ve tried to make our menu as authentic as possible,” he says.

Jim Nesbitt, vice-president of Larco Hospitality which manages the three hotels, says the World Cup celebrations provide fans with "lots of great conversation" and an opportunity to wear the jersey of their choice without prejudice.

 

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