While the Sydney Swans and GWS battled it out away from home in Launceston on the weekend, a contest as hard fought as any footy final has been taking place back at the SCG and the under-construction Sydney Football Stadium.
The cut-throat, winner-takes-all fight for the catering contract at the stadiums has attracted a lip-licking A-list field, and Good Food can reveal sports fans may be munching on food from the ladder-leading stable of Mr. Wong and Totti's in the not-too-distant future.
All parties involved in the bid have been informed there is now a chosen party, with the Justin Hemmes-led Merivale in final contract stage and an official announcement expected next month.
Merivale issued a "no comment" on any deal, while rival bidders said their race on the project was run.
"When we heard they [Merivale] were on the shortlist, we knew it'd be hard to compete and they nabbed it," a rival bidder who asked not to be named says.
In the standard world of faceless stadium food, it has been quite the contest. Bidders attached a who's who of Sydney food figures to polish bids. Chef Matt Moran was linked with one. We can confirm a posse of names, including Flying Fish spin-off Flying Fish & Chips and Bourke Street Bakery, were also attached to a bid. Venues Live has been in the running along with incumbent Delaware North, which has operated concessions and premium dining at the SCG since 2010.
Sydney eat streets have been buzzing about the tender, which has been ambitious in setting a brief of wanting to bring Sydney's best food into a stadium setting. In that regard it's difficult to compete with Merivale, which has high-end brands and experience it can leverage into corporate catering and more approachable products such as tacos and Jimmy's Falafel. It also has the experience to operate the pub, which is part of the new stadium.
"Venues NSW is continuing to evaluate the shortlisted bids for the catering partner at the Sydney Cricket Ground and new Sydney Football Stadium. The tender process has been conducted in line with NSW Government procurement guidelines," a spokesman for Venues NSW says.
Get ready for a half-time orange wedged on a cocktail glass. Even if you don't like sport, the party is about to kick off.