Kerala chef to spice up Paris 2024 Olympics

Benny Thomas
Benny is fondly called 'Ronaldo' by his friends who believe he bears an uncanny resemblance to the legendary Brazilian footballer.

Kannur: There is an old joke that when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon he found a Malayalee running a tea shop there. Jokes apart, a Malayalee chef will be preparing food for athletes from around the world at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Their taste buds will be satiated by Benny Thomas, who hails from Kudiyanmala in Kannur district.

Benny is the chief executive officer of Spago International, a globally renowned company specialised in catering for major sports events in the US, Europe and the Middle East. Spago International was also the official catering partner of the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosted by Qatar. The company has over 1,700 permanent employees and around 5,000 temporary staff in fourteen countries.

After completing his Bachelor's Degree in English from Payyanur College, Benny did a hotel management diploma course and moved to Mumbai to pursue a career as a chef. Over the last few decades, he has served in various roles in the hospitality industries in Mumbai and Dubai. In 2006, Benny retired as the operation director of Le Meridien Dubai and took over the management of a French restaurant. 

However, the initiative failed to yield the desired results. Thereafter, he opened a sandwich shop with a single employee. "We prepared sandwiches and sold them in offices in the vicinity of the shop. Eventually, I started receiving orders to prepare food for about a dozen people on a daily basis. Slowly the business started growing and my first major assignment was to prepare food for a sports event organised by the Dubai government," said Benny, who is fondly called 'Ronaldo' by his friends who believe he bears an uncanny resemblance to the legendary Brazilian footballer. 

The nickname has stuck with him and when Benny launched a catering services company in 2011, he did not think twice to name it Ronaldo's Spago Catering Services. Within no time Ronaldo's Spago became a name to reckon with in the Middle East as the company started offering catering services for major sports events in the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Currently, Ronaldo's Spago is operational in eleven countries across the world. 

Benny, son of late Puthuparambil Thomas and Vadakkeputhanpura Thresiamma, is also the chairman of St Antony's College at Peruvanthanam in Idukki. Ronaldo's Spago also provides training to students pursuing the hotel management course offered by the college. 

Roshan Benny is his wife and the couple has two children, Angel Treesa Benny and Annette Treesa Benny.

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