The big idea
HANNAH HOOTON, catering business development manager at Delia’s Canary Catering, on why there’s more than just football on offer at Carrow Road
Delia’s has been on the food map of Norfolk for a good many years now; can you remind us how it all began?
Delia Smith has always had two great passions in life – food and football. She joined the board of Norwich City FC in 1996, after many many years of supporting the Canaries from the City Stand and decided to create a food offer that would serve the club better and hopefully contribute to the club’s income in a way it hadn’t before. It was a really bold move when she launched Delia’s Restaurant and Bar as The Brasserie back in 1999. At that point she was the best-known TV cook in the country but she’d never developed her public brand, as such, beyond the books – and of course she outsold all the others for years and years! But having her own restaurant was a big step – in fact I don’t think any of the TV cooks had their own restaurant – this was well before Jamie launched his chain of eateries.
What is it that makes Delia’s special in a crowded market place?
Her! Purely and simply, Delia is the difference. It’s her first and only flagship restaurant and it’s her reputation that brings people in. They know that she has high standards and it’s the only place to eat her food cooked to those high standards. She has weekly meetings with her team to ensure that that consistency is maintained throughout the year. She’s very particular about the standards of service too.
Also Delia is very involved – we publish a list of our local suppliers on our website (www.deliascanarycatering.co.uk). Delia’s always been passionate about this so encourages her chefs to go out and see the product wherever possible. It’s really important to her to support the local economy – it’s just part of what she thinks is ethical. It’s like – we’re having this classical music evening on 31 March and Delia asked if we could get the local music shop involved, in order to support them. Community is a really big thing for her, a really big thing.
Free parking is also something we offer which other city centre venues can’t – and it’s obviously a big plus in a largely rural county like Norfolk.
How do you make sure that your clients keep coming back?
Our exemplary service. Anyone who knows Delia knows she has a very specific way she wants guests to be greeted and made to feel comfortable. She wants our team to offer a warm and familiar welcome but also maintain the highest levels of professionalism. It’s a very particular thing but I think that, and the quality of food we offer, is what makes us stand out. We guarantee not just a good dinner, or a good event, but we guarantee a great experience and it’s that whole package that keeps people coming back for more.
How important is Delia in Norwich City FC’s overall business plan and why?
She IS the business plan. Delia herself is integral to the success of both Delia’s and Yellows and the football club itself, I would say. People come to our events or buy things because they love the club, but also because they love Delia. She’s a passionate supporter and a very passionate champion of the community. She’s always the one pushing community involvement. She commissioned an artwork of the letters NCFC, with each letter being made up of different parts of that community – the fans, the players etc. And she says: “We need each of those letters. None of us is as smart as all of us.”
What’s the Big Idea for 2017?
In the past I think we’ve relied upon the club and fans as the market for our events, but we’re keen to reach out to new markets and encourage people to come along and give the catering at Delia’s and Yellows a try. We really want to pull in people from all of the community – whether it’s for the Community Sports Foundation’s Jamie’s Game, our lunch with Café Rouge founder Karen Jones or our evening with Phil Tufnell on April 7. We’re just getting started. We don’t just do sports events and we want to do things to appeal to every demographic in our local community. We’re always happy to hear from our customers with their thoughts and suggestions too and are looking forward to a fabulous year getting more and more people involved.