General Manager Michael Thornton on Marqette’s Continued Success in the World of Airport Dining
Anyone who has strolled through the halls of Dublin Airport in recent years will no doubt have been tempted by the tempting smells wafting from Marqette. Be it breakfast before your early morning flight or a more hearty dish later in the day, you can always be guaranteed a delicious dish at the terminal one venue.
The award-winning food hall is once again up for the FAB awards, the Airport Food and Beverage Conference and Awards, after first claiming the prestigious title of “Airport Food Hall of The Year” last year.
With this in mind, we chatted to Marqette’s general manager, Michael Thornton, about how things have changed over the past year and what passengers can expect when dining before they fly.
You won Airport Food Hall of the Year 2017 at the FAB Awards. What do you think sets Marqette apart from other Airport Food Halls, both in Ireland and internationally?
Marqette, located in Terminal One at Dublin Airport has shown the world that passengers no longer have to settle for pre-cooked, unimaginative repetitive food choices in basic and sometimes uncomfortable surroundings. Marqette was created with the unique and specific needs of the travelling public in mind. It was never an adapted model framed to fit the travel sector, it was created specifically for it.
With a guaranteed audience we could easily become complacent. Instead, we see this as an opportunity to do something special, to change people’s perception of what is possible, filling a gap in the market for fresh, consistent and innovative food and service.
Based on the idea of market shopping for real food in a real market, Marqette is a vibrant and diverse collection of food counters, self-service points, seating and dining areas. We have worked closely with the airport authorities to ensure that we can access and supply our customers with fresh wholesome food, all sourced locally by our team of experts and cooked to order every day. We pride ourselves on creativity, adapting to the newest food trends and patterns at excellent value for money. Food is seasonal, on trend and served with passion.
What did it mean to be recognised by the FAB awards?
Winning the Award for the “Airport Food Hall of the Year” was a huge honour for us and a fantastic endorsement of Marqette and everyone’s hard work since we opened in September 2015. The shortlist was drawn from almost 250 entries, representing all sectors of the burgeoning airport food & beverage sector.
The awards recognise and reward best practice in the sector and Marqette was shortlisted in three categories; “Airport Food Hall of the Year”, “Airport Bar of the Year”, “Airport Food on the Go”. Marqette was announced as the overall winner of the prestigious “Airport Food Hall of the Year” , positioning Marqette as the number one in the world. The FAB Awards are the cornerstone for airport dining from around the world and an award win is recognised globally.
A FAB award accreditation has the highest recognition amongst international consumers and airport F&B players. Winning this award has made a significant business difference to our team and the Marqette brand on an international level.
Have you felt that more people are eager to try the food at Marqette since winning the award last year?
Airport dining is a highly competitive industry and the team at Marqette has a strong passion to deliver the best in all aspects of food preparation and presentation, with a special focus on service delivery.
Winning the award supported our approach in everything Marqette has to offer the customer. Our current growth level is ahead of the passenger growth, so yes more people are trying Marqette.
How does Marqette ensure the last meal people experience in Ireland sends them off with a flying start to their holiday?
Studies show that globally, Ireland has an image as a nation of friendly, warm and welcoming people. Therefore, our aim at Marqette is to replicate this in our customer service, menus and space.
Food provenance and authenticity were top of agenda for Marqette as the team deliver Irish culinary delights with exceptional customer service to airport passengers. This in turn helps to promote Ireland as a whole in terms of food and drink to both the native and international customer as they depart from from Dublin Airport.
How important are local food suppliers?
The unwillingness to compromise on quality is emphasised in Marqette’s commitment to supporting Irish farmers, artisans and suppliers, providing customers with an authentically local and sustainable dining. (Could you add the map to highlight how local the suppliers are. Please see attached )
We want to use as much local produce as possible in Marqette. For a lot of passengers we are the last taste of Irish food and we want it to be local and of the highest quality.
Who are some of the food producers you champion on the menu at Marqette?
We use the finest ingredients in our in-house kitchen at Marqette, including Gubbeen Salami (West Cork), Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzarella (Macroom), Irish fruits and vegetables from Iona Farms (Oldtown, North Dublin) and Oriel Sea Salt (Clogherhead) and Hope Beer in Dublin to name a few. The relationships we have built with suppliers directly impact the quality of food at Marqette.
How has airport dining changed over the years and how has Marqette changed over the past year?
Service is paramount and in a busy airport terminal, it is the backbone of any successful business. Highly trained staff are on hand throughout every area at Marqette in order to ensure a first-class experience for every customer. It’s the warmth and personal service that keep our customers coming back.
In the past year, Marqette has gone from strength to strength, employing a dedicated team of over 110 full time staff. Our commitment to sustainability is reflected in our constant research and development of new products and services. We continue to develop our environmental policy to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment using fully compostable packaging and suppliers within a local radius of the airport.
A new range of vegan products, pulled chicken, flatbread burritos and barbequed pork waffles have been popular additions to our menus. Also, a variety of in-house made ice creams and new organic juices have been introduced to complement all existing food choices. We continue to develop our environmental policy to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment, using fully compostable packaging for all Food on the Fly products which is proving very welcome with our customers.
You’ve entered this year’s FAB Awards. Do you feel Marqette has done enough to win again this year?
It’s not just one thing that makes Marqette an outstanding Airport Foodhall, it’s everything combined that makes it a unique, innovative and forward thinking offering in a worldwide airport.
The real key to the success of the brand is the management team’s devotion to constant evolution and development, using products that are real, authentic and bursting with honest-to-goodness quality. Last year’s win is in no small part due to the richness of Marqette produce, the strength of our story and the passion of the people behind Marqette.
Marqette is a wonderful ambassador for Irish food in airports, and we are certain that we will remain key players in maintaining Ireland’s enviable reputation on an international stage.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.
A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.