Amadeus appoints new NEC executive chef

Leading venue and event caterer, Amadeus has appointed a new Executive Chef for the National Exhibition Centre (NEC).

Paul Connolly has worked for the business for over 30 years, starting out with Amadeus as a trainee at just 17 years old. Since joining the company he has steadily risen the ranks, holding a number of varied catering positions with the NEC Group, before being promoted to Executive Chef for the NEC in January 2019.

A specialist in delivering high volume retail catering and bespoke fine dining for the events industry, Paul will be responsible for the culinary strategy for the venue, including menu development, procurement, food safety and sustainability initiatives.

This includes overseeing retail catering for the NEC’s 500 events every year which attract 2.4million visitors annually. In his former role as Senior Head Chef, Paul was heavily involved in the development of ‘The Edge’, which saw Amadeus completely transform the in-hall catering offering at the venue in order to put the customer experience at the heart of the foodservice operation.

In addition, he will be responsible for delivering fine dining menus for Amadeus’ live events portfolio at the NEC. This is a key area of interest for Amadeus with demand for live events at the NEC having doubled in the last 12 months as the venue continues to attract a more diverse client base.

Connolly said, “After my first day with Amadeus as a trainee, I knew I wanted to make a career in event catering. And I’ve never looked back – it’s such a varied and exciting industry to work in, there’s no chance of feeling unfulfilled.

'While I’ve been working at the NEC, I have seen the both the industry and customer expectations change dramatically. Our food offering is almost unrecognisable to where we were 30 years ago – today, the F&B concepts we are creating and the level of service we offer customers is comparable to that you’d find on the high street.”

Following his own experience with Amadeus, Connolly is passionate about developing grass roots culinary talent. He is an ambassador for Amadeus’ apprenticeship programme which sees apprentices work towards positions of permanent employment in a bid to help the company develop a strong pipeline of future talent.

Connolly explained, “Amadeus is a fantastic business to learn and progress with. The entire management team is very motivated to nurture and develop talent from a grass roots level right up to Executive Chef level. I have learnt so much with Amadeus and am excited about this new chapter leading the culinary strategy for the NEC.”

Marc Frankl, Food and Beverage Director for Amadeus, said, “Paul has a fantastic track record of creating innovative concepts and improving restaurant standards and profitability. He is the ideal candidate to drive the F&B offering at the venue forward, ensuring Amadeus remains competitive in an increasingly challenging market.”