"Grab and stay” rather than “grab and go” is the motto for Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Ice Rink.
Marketing man Mark Flint, from the catering company Oliver founded with Fresh Direct’s Nigel Harris, says the aim is to keep things quick and simple.
“This style of food is grab and go at festivals, but at the ice rink in Brighton we’re trying to refer to it as grab and stay.
“We want people to sit inside and hang out after skating, then relax and get a drink at the bar.”
He says the vibe will be half way between the rapid food-style they’ve honed running temporary food halls at festivals this summer – including V, Isle Of Wight and Rewind – and the fine-dining events they’ve catered for on boats on the Thames.
The menu is straightforward and family-orientated.
“We could have gone for something really adventurous but the feedback from organisers was that would be not suited to the guests.
“We’ve made something a bit more simple, not boring, but easier to understand and more accessible to families.”
No one wants to eat a rich, roast suckling pig after skating for an hour, so “it’s winter warming and not too posh”.
Another Fabulous Feasts motto is about making “theatre” in food.
“With our food it’s all about theatre and not putting a bap on a plate and taking your money.
“It’s all about raising the bar and putting on a show, doing something different to tie in to the setting.
“That’s why I think it is a really good event for us.
“The Pavilion is such a brilliant venue, and to have an ice skating rink right next to it, and us next to it as well, creates a fantastic theatrical package.”
They won’t be doing canapés but to get the “theatre” the kitchen will be open so diners will be able to see the chefs cooking.
“Whenever you come up to the counter you will be able to see into the kitchen to see the chefs working.
“We also encourage all our staff to engage with customers. They’ll be able to tell customers exactly where the food has been sourced from.
“It’s really about urging guests to get engaged so they enjoy the food.”
Most of the food, as with all Jamie’s Italians, goes through the Bicester hub in Oxfordshire that Harris’s Fresh Direct firm owns.
The chefs are trained nearby, including the head chef at Brighton Royal Pavilion Ice Rink, Paul King.
The menu includes soups and stews which start at £3.95. Flint picks out the carrot, coriander and cumin.
“That’s my favourite and is a new one for this winter.”
All the recipes are taken from Jamie’s books and there is a strong crossover with Jamie’s Italian.
“The bocconcini and the pickles in the antipasti are from exactly the same farm in Italy that Jamie sourced all those years ago when he first went to the country.
“Some stews and soups are being done for the first time but they have all been tried and tested by the experts at Fabulous Feasts.”
Jamie’s mulled wine (glass/1l jug, £3.50/£12.95), hot chocolate with marshmallows (250ml, £2.50) and spiced cider (glass/1l jug, £3.50/£12.95) are among the drinks on offer.
Inside the marquee there is space for 130 covers and the décor is red and gold and Christmas-themed.
There are no bookings, but groups of more than ten can reserve a table and a hamper for £18.50 a head.
“We are doing a shared dinner that is bits and bobs off the menu but tweaked to be a bit nicer.
“It will included plates of porchetta, bubble and squeak, wooden boards of cheese straws, bags of sweet treats and a retro Thermos flask of soup.
“As soon as we see you seated and off the ice,” he explains, “we’ll bring you a hamper of treats.”
Jamie Oliver's Fabulous Feasts is open 10am to 10pm daily. For more information, visit www.royalpavilionicerink.co.uk