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The Art of Catering: Seven Massive Meals in the Sails Pavilion

At your San Diego Convention Center, we are in the experience business. And hosting dinners or banquets in the iconic 90,000 sq. ft. Sails Pavilion makes for quite the experience!

What does it take to feed 6,500 people in this one room during one convention?

At this year's Cardinal Health Retail Business Conference (RBC), our in-house staff worked to serve seven meals in the Sails Pavilion over the course of four days. It was a collaboration between the San Diego Convention Center and our food and beverage team, Centerplate.

We captured this catering feat in the time-lapse video below, where you can see the preparation that goes into them behind-the-scenes. One of the major accomplishments is that after lunch on the third day, our staff converted the entire Sails Pavilion from a buffet setup to a plated-dinner setup with a completely new look and feel.

Here are some fun facts about the employees who make it look easy:

  • 30 employees of the San Diego Convention Center Facilities Department brought in and set up 522 tables and 5,000+ chairs over two shifts.
    • This increased to 555 tables on the event's third day.
  • On the catering side, each meal had between 108 to 135 servers and 6 shift captains with our food and beverage team, Centerplate.
    • An additional 62 to 79 employees were behind-the-scenes cooking and preparing the food before it was served.
  • This increased to 216 servers during the peak time for the event's large, plated dinner.

We estimate that over 27,000 individual meals were eaten in the Sails Pavilion throughout the four-day meeting.

Another important customer-service detail that our food and beverage team was able to achieve was customized-meals. These included:

  • 4,246 Halal meals
  • 2,098 Kids meals
  • 527 Kosher meals
  • 124 gluten-free meals

Over the course of the event, over 7,000 of these specialty meals were consumed in place of the standard attendee meal.

"It was a year in planning that included custom and specialty menus to wow thousands," said Centerplate General Manager Bobby Ramirez. "From tables to linens and décor, to preparing and displaying our culinary creations, and flowing the guest into the meal room, we delivered an awe-inspiring dining experience flawlessly!"


Alec Church's picture
Posted by Alec Church, on October 2, 2018
Meeting Planners

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