The man tasked with running the catering at Tottenham Hotspur’s recently-opened £850m stadium has described the extraordinary effort that will go into ramping up the kitchen operations ahead of each Premier League match this season.
Spurs were due to move into the stadium at the start of last season, but delays to the project meant they were only able to play the final seven matches of the campaign there.
However, that was enough to provide a flavour of what the first full season will entail for the venue’s back-of-house staff when the Premier League gets underway later this month.
Mark Reynolds, executive head chef at Tottenham Hotspur, said the chef team on site at the stadium would scale up significantly on match days.
“We’ll go from a team of about 23 up to 230 chefs on match days so it is a big jump. Numbers-wise [on match day], we do about 8,500 hospitality covers, and there are about 54,000 transactions done through retail, so it’s a busy operation. When we first opened we were forecasting to do about £500,000 on a match day, we turn over £1m now on most match days, so food and beverage has really gone through the roof and been well-received by the new fans.
“But it’s a 24-hour operation, 365 days a year, and there is a lot of banqueting outside of the football. Lots of people question what we do outside the football season, but actually we’re very busy and there are functions going on all the time.”
Mr Reynolds, who previously ran the non-retail foodservice operation at Wembley Stadium, said that delays to the completion date of the stadium gave the senior chef team the luxury of spending more time on tastings, fine-tuning menus and preparing for the opening.
“We never thought it was going to happen last season and then the chairman said, ‘you’ve got 11 days to open’, so it was a challenge but we got through it. Our hardest challenge was probably chefs arriving on a match day who had never been to the areas before, so it was about showing them where their areas were and explaining to them what the offers were. The suppliers were all set up so getting the food was the easy part – it was the task of showing the guys what they had to do that was the toughest part. Hopefully this season will be smooth sailing!”
The 62,000-seater venue is the first stadium to have its own on-site bakery and brewery, and one of only two places in the UK to have a special water jet cutter used for pastry production. It also features its own coffee roasting and pie-making facilities. Pie sales rose from 9,000 to 15,000 at the end of last season as a result.
Mr Reynolds, who was speaking at this year’s Commercial Kitchen show in a panel hosted by FEJ, estimated there are close to 45 separate kitchen areas dotted around the stadium and more than 165 Rational ovens in use.
“Rational has been our right arm really. It was a big job to fit them all in but it is definitely saving us a lot of time and it’s just such a great workhorse. They are all connected as well, so if we have an issue we can ring Luton [where Rational is based], find out what the issue is and get the parts ordered so that the engineer’s not wasting time coming down without knowing what he’s repairing.
“Having that smart technology available certainly helps. We can also track cleaning cycles to make sure that we’re doing our part in keeping the equipment working properly.”