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Premium hospitality expertise on display as Patina Restaurant Group shines at PGA Championship

It was barely 4 a.m. during the recent seven-day 2024 PGA Championship in Louisville, Ky., and all was – mostly – quiet at Valhalla Golf Club in the hours before spectators arrived. However, there was one place that buzzed with pre-dawn activity each day: the main production kitchen for Delaware North’s Patina Restaurant Group, the event’s official catering partner.

Within this massive temporary structure, chefs were slicing, dicing and working methodically. A steady stream of delivery trucks brought an array of fresh products. And grills and griddles were fired up for breakfast, with offerings such as freshly made hashbrowns soon sizzling.

When feeding more than 200,000 spectators freshly prepared food, this pre-sunrise effort ensures a top-notch guest experience, said Ed Milan, executive chef for Patina at PGA of America events.

“We do everything fresh. You see fresh garlic, you see fresh onions,” Milan explained during a behind-the-scenes tour of the production kitchen for several local media outlets. “We make our own vinaigrette here onsite. All the meat comes in fresh. We don’t use anything frozen. We have a local house that will cut 4,000 pieces of salmon for us. We grill it, we sear it, and it goes out on the course and gets finished.”

The salmon that Milan referenced was imported from the Faroe Islands and other fish from the Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo.

Patina curated diverse menus for all hospitality spaces, drawing inspiration from Louisville and the surrounding region. The company operated all aspects of the event’s foodservice, including seven on-course market concessions, nine bar outlets, chalets, suites, premium suites, Club PGA, Champions Club, Valhalla Member Club, PGA Member Club, Chase Sapphire Lounge, media dining, player and caddie dining and the esteemed clubhouse at Valhalla Golf Club.

With more than 720,000 square feet of hospitality space, it was the largest PGA Championship on record.

Among many highlights was the return of the highly popular Championship+ Ticket, which includes an all-inclusive food and beverage program. The all-inclusive model, first introduced in 2022 and expanded in 2023, received rave reviews this year – with 97% of surveyed spectators recommending its continuation for future events.

For the second year in a row, the cheeseburger was the most highly rated item served at general admission markets, with guests referring to the item as “restaurant quality.” The variety of food items available was also a hit, receiving a positive rating from 91% of guests surveyed and several comments expressing appreciation for the availability of vegetarian and meatless options. 

“This is the largest all-inclusive event in the world,” Eric Babcook, general manager for Patina at PGA of America events, told the Louisville Courier Journal. Babcook also highlighted the event’s signature cocktail, The Mulligan, and other on-course beverages during live spots with local media.

In total, Patina had more than 850 team members onsite for the weeklong event – many of whom were on-location for several weeks.

“In delivering an exceptional PGA Championship experience, it’s the dedication of our team members that truly sets us apart,” Babcook said. “Our team members, hailing from various locations across the country, have come together with a shared commitment to excellence. Their tireless efforts ensure that every aspect of the event exceeds expectations and leaves a lasting impression on attendees.”

Patina entered the golf hospitality sector in 2021 and has since served spectators at annual events such as the PGA Championship, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. The company also will be the official caterer of the 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y., on Long Island.