A WTCE case study on Panoramic Gourmet plc.

Panoramic Gourmet plc is the caterer of choice to the world-famous Glacier Express, the Rhaetian Railway and the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway dining cars. Each year, onboard hosts serve over 200,000 guests with culinary delights from the kitchen on wheels, as they journey through the Swiss Alpine region. For Panoramic Gourmet plc, the key focus is to provide its passengers with an incomparable epicurean experience as they traverse the Alpine regions.

Panoramic Gourmet plc prides itself in working with only the very best suppliers, helping it to source phenomenal quality produce and ingredients, tailored to each region travelled through to ensure it delights guests with each and every meal. And it works closely with speciality producers from each region, using time honoured traditions to create exemplary traditional food and drink.

As CEO Tim Uebersax says: “What ends up in our pots and on our plates is the best that the regions we travel through have to offer. To achieve this, we work closely with producers from the region who make their products with care, enthusiasm and passion, and who share our philosophy as culinary craftsmen. Together we create a decadent and tantalising gourmet experience, a wonderful mirror of the region our guests travel through. Certain suppliers are located right on the railway line, so customers can see where the products they are about to consume come from.”

The key to a smooth-running operation is effective communication with the rail operators. Uebersax explains: “Communication between the companies is managed through a few different methods, including weekly and monthly meetings, as well as daily exchanges with our operational staff, which are crucial for successful daily routines. We work with the Rhaetian Railway (RhB), affectionately known as ‘the little red one’, which travels over 384km of tracks across Graubünden, as well as The Matterhorn Gotthard Railway, which is a 153km long network, stretching from Disentis in Graubünden over the Oberalp Pass to Andermatt in the canton of Uri. We also work with The Glacier Express, often called ‘the slowest express train in the world’. In about eight hours, the train travels over 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and over the 2033m high Oberalp Pass near the source of the Rhine.”

With vast areas of the Swiss Apls covered over these three networks, it’s clear to see how integral communication is to maintaining a slick operation. However, catering across such vast stretches of land in varying landscapes is not without its challenges. Uebersax explains how “The biggest challenges are logistical. In Chur, at the Panoramic Gourmet site, all trains are loaded in all directions. This has to be planned meticulously because we don’t have any other logistical possibilities in this Alpine environment. Added to this, currently the labour market is challenging. It’s increasingly difficult to find the necessary number of well-trained employees who are happy to work to irregular hours and have overnight stays away from home  – not forgetting the effects of Alpine altitudes!”

For a business dedicated to not only providing an exceptional culinary experience onboard, but also providing its staff with the support needed to succeed in what can be a challenging environment, attending trade events like World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) is key. Uebersax explains: “Attending WTCE helps me to keep up to date with the latest trends in gastronomy, food and catering. Additionally, digital software and logistical inventory tools are equally as important to me, so that we can equip our staff with the latest support to make their jobs easier. When I attend trade events, I make a list of our current challenges ahead of time, so I can be laser focused on how a show like WTCE can help me overcome them. To ensure an efficient visit to Hamburg, we must plan well, otherwise it’s easy to become distracted by many other suppliers and products. For any other travel catering companies looking to attend WTCE, I’d recommend taking advantage of the network that the event provides. Visit with curiosity, interest, without prejudice and with open eyes.”

Tim Uebersax of Panoramic Gourmet plc with be joining a panel discussion at this year’s WTCE Taste of Travel Theatre which will see speakers from three leading rail caterers compare how they are developing their onboard customer hospitality, whilst complying with evolving sustainability and service requirements.

WTCE takes place 6-8 June 2023 at the Hamburg Messe. For further information, visit www.worldtravelcateringexpo.com.