When you visit Tanglewood for a concert, in addition to the music, you may come early, enjoy the beautiful campus and dine. While you may bring your own food, you don't have to -- Tanglewood is its own summer dining empire. Last weekend, alone, it hosted 13 separate dining events.
On the spur of the moment, you can get made-to-order sandwiches, the salad bar, grilled-to-order burgers, hot food and other casual items at the Grill just beyond the Glass House, near the main gate, or at the Café (which has more on its menu than the Grill), between the Shed and the Lions Gate. Both have picnic tables.
There are tables for the public inside the tent at the Shed Beer Garden, where beer, wine or some distilled liquor can be purchased.
The Grill, Café and Beer Garden are open during Shed concerts, from 5:30 p.m. through intermission on Friday and Saturday, and from noon through intermission on Sunday. The Café is also open Monday through Friday, from noon to 2:30 p.m., for the public, as well as Tanglewood personnel and students.
If you plan at least 48 hours ahead, you may phone in an order to (413) 637-5152 for complete, bagged sandwich, boxed three-course dinner or tote for two or more picnic meals-to-go for pick-up.
Donors who give Tanglewood between $750 and $1,499 become Tent Club members. They may reserve a table to bring food to dine inside the Hawthorne Tent. Donors of $1,500 or more become Tent Club, Highwood Dining Club and Seranak Supper Club members.
Taryn Lott, senior public relations associate for the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) said, "Highwood's chef, Keverne Glasgow, is from Gourmet Caterers. He prepares all Highwood meals and receptions in the Highwood kitchen."
"Sarah Hewitt is the chef at Seranak this year. She works for Gourmet Caterers in Boston," she said.
Lott said Hewitt comes to Seranak's kitchen to make the Friday and Saturday suppers, and post-concert and other activities there, including the brunch for the annual Trusteez and Overseerz Weekend at Tanglewood this past weekend.
But, basically, most Tanglewood food starts in the commissary, Boston Gourmet's kitchen under The Café.
The BSO website notes, "Gourmet Caterers, in partnership with Centerplate, one of the nation's leading entertainment venue hospitality providers, has formed Boston Gourmet to serve the BSO as its exclusive caterer."
Lott explained, "Boston Gourmet produces the food for Cafe, Grill and all concessions. They produce the food for Tent Club and catering on the property except for large events."
"The high-profile events and large functions," like opening night at Tanglewood and the dinners for the Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic in August, "are prepped by the Gourmet Catering commissary in Boston," Lott added. "The food is transported to Tanglewood in refrigerated trucks and finished by Gourmet Catering chefs at Tanglewood."
"Guest chefs order the food and have it delivered to Tanglewood, and then prepare their meals at the kitchens at Tanglewood. They usually bring one person from their restaurant, but chefs on property assist them if needed," she concluded.
The most fun is to have your own personal party in a tent at Tanglewood, catered by Boston Gourmet.
Stephen Ponchak, who is the event planner for Boston Gourmet at Boston Symphony Hall and at Tanglewood, said, "People can rent tents on Tanglewood grounds, including in the formal gardens and the Hawthorne tent. This is often done in April and May," he said. "A couple of weeks later, menus get sorted out with Tanglewood and BSO chefs."
Boston Gourmet arranges a simple sandwich, composed salad and dessert buffet for 30 and a barbecue for 300. They lay a buffet with roast duck, filet mignon stroganoff and vegetarian steak, ending with strawberry shortcake or key lime pie. Presentation can be traditional (prime rib with horseradish-Dijon mustard sauce) or modern (crispy halibut in saffron tomato broth over shallot risotto).
They offer breakfast (applewood-smoke bacon and portabella mushroom hash, hamsteak with grits, biscuits and redeye gravy), brunch (roasted tomato and goat cheese quiche), lunch (New England lobster roll with tarragon aioli on brioche, Italian cold cuts with roasted red peppers, tapanade and rosemary oil on ciabatta), passed hors d'ouvres (biscuits, bruschetta, chips, cones, crisps, crostini, cups, focaccia, frittatas, pancakes, panini, pizza bites, quesadillas, quiches, raviolis, seafood, shooters, skewers, spoons, sushi, tartlets, toast), dinner (Cornish game hen with Chinese five-spice sauce, veal sirloin with fava bean succotash) and/or dessert.
He said the tents are available from mid-June through early September.
Ponchak has coordinated catered events in tents at Tanglewood since Boston Gourmet became connected with the BSO in 2010. He knows exactly how to make them most gracious and memorable. Contact him at StephenP@gourmetcater
erer.com with inquiries.
"People book the tents for graduation parties, family get-togethers, bridal showers, wedding parties, anniversaries or whatever they like. In the case of special events, like weddings, that process begins at least a year out."
There are groups -- from 30 to 300 -- who organize a Tanglewood outing every year. Catered tent dining is a deliciously anticipated part of their day.
This summer, Chef Paul Kirch has come up from Centerplate hospitality company at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. There, Kirch said, he routinely serves weekends of food for 14,000.
Still, he said he is "more of a hands-on style chef," who prizes the fresh, from-scratch ingredients of his homemade pesto and homemade chili, as well as a kitchen operation which runs with order, organization and planning.
At Tanglewood, Kirch oversees and assists the smooth and tasty running and presentation of almost all Tanglewood food services, from making sure the SoCo ice cream carts around the grounds stay stocked; to whisking fresh sandwiches and cups of freshly cut fruit to the coffee and snack concession near Ozawa Hall; to maintaining the Beer Garden in the tent behind the Shed and the Grill and the Café; and preparing all the meals-to-go.
For information about dining at Tanglewood, go to www.bso.org/