June 10, 2019

Grad Season at the Edmonton Convention Centre

Graduation day is a milestone moment for many high school students across the Capital Region. Have you ever wondered how many times Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever)” song has been played throughout our halls? Or how many selfies have been taken on our patios with Edmonton’s river valley in the background? Our venue has been synonymous with convocations and corsages since opening in 1983—and every May and June, thousands of young-adults take their first step across the stage into adulthood at the Edmonton Convention Centre.

Our staff begin preparing for high school graduations months in advance. Graduation season at the ECC is our Everest, and we are currently in the thick of climbing it. Come inside the building and you will be guaranteed to see hundreds of glittery dresses, proud parents and relieved teachers…but what’s going on behind the scenes?

Graduation Season 2019

In 2019, 21 high school graduations will be hosted at the Edmonton Convention Centre. This means between convocation ceremonies and dinner banquets, approximately 49,268 high-school graduates and their families will visit us between May 2 and June 28.  The biggest graduating class comes from Archbishop O’Leary High School, who will host 4,368 guests for the ceremonies and 2,000 for the evening banquet.

Cooking for a Crowd

With a staff of 11 Red Seal chefs and 30 cooks, the Edmonton Convention Centre kitchen is equipped to serve up to 6,000 meals in one day. This year, our kitchen expects to dish up dinner for 26,600 guests over the course of the six-week grad season. Chicken is by far the most popular meal choice—Chef Serge and the culinary team will prepare more than 23,000 pieces of the dinner favourite. Additionally, our team will peel more than 6,300 pounds of potatoes and produce 1,400 litres of house-made sauce.

Executive Pasty Chef Jason Wang and his team have our pastry kitchen stocked with nearly 4,000 pounds of cream, 950 pounds of strawberries and 1,150 pounds of eggs in preparation for creating nearly 30,000 sweet-treats for our graduates and their guests.

What about all those dishes?

The Edmonton Convention Centre stewarding department plays a tremendous role at the centre. According to Chief Steward John Omoyayi, each guest uses an average of 14 pieces of silverware and glassware during a typical dinner service. This means (by conservative estimates) our stewarding department will wash a whopping 372,000 dishes over the course of this year’s graduation season.

“Working in stewarding is not really all about throwing dishes through the dishwasher,” says Omoyayi. “You must have the sincere passion to really want to work as a steward—you have to have the mindset that you can turn dirt into gold. You are always on the go, always thinking ahead, and your only relaxation time comes when you go for your official breaks.”

As we celebrate a new season of high-school graduates, we wish the classes of 2019 every success. As the hats come off and they embark on a new path, we hope they remember their graduation day as the beginning of it all and think fondly of our team who works tirelessly to ensure it’s nothing less than remarkable.

Congratulations Class of 2019!

Grad Season 2019 at a Glance

21 high-school graduations

49,268 overall guests

26,600 dinner guests

23,000 chicken breasts

6,300 pounds of potatoes

4,000 pounds of cream

372,000 dirty dishes

Did you know?

During a dinner service, an Edmonton Convention Centre server is required to walk an estimated 36 km while carrying an average of 35 pounds of food per course.

The Edmonton Convention Centre commercial dishwasher can wash 1,500 dinner plates per hour. At this rate, it will take our stewarding team more than 240 hours to wash, dry and organize the dishes generated by this year’s grad season.

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