Silverstone Circuit is planning a major investment in new kitchens and catering facilities as it prepares to welcome another 500,000 visitors through its doors over the next two years.
Although the Northamptonshire site is best known as the location of the British Grand Prix every July, it hosts seven other annual race events and is generally busy with corporate hospitality throughout the calendar. Its ‘Silverstone Wing’ conference facility is the largest venue of its kind between London and Birmingham, catering for more than 3,000 visitors at a time.
Head chef, Dean Hoddle, is the man charged with overseeing the catering operation and his remit spans no fewer than nine kitchens and up to 40 chefs and 30 kitchen porters during peak times.
Work is due to commence next year on an on-site Hilton hotel, which will double Mr Hoddle’s operation within the Wing alone, while an Experience Centre set to open in the spring will feature a new kitchen that he has to operate.
Further catering spaces are planned in the coming years, with the venue predicting it will welcome two million visitors through its gates within the next two years, up from 1.5 million in 2017.
“I would imagine we are probably going to be looking at another four or five kitchens at least and they are going to be fully operational most of the time,” he told FEJ. “For the first time in my career I was stood on a block of concrete recently looking at an open space and trying to envisage a kitchen, with the walls, ceilings, extraction and equipment! It’s a really exciting time.”
Silverstone’s head chef Dean Hoddle currently oversees nine separate kitchens at the Northamptonshire site.The main CPU kitchen in the Wing takes on the bulk of the workload, supported by two regen kitchens and a separate third floor kitchen to service the banqueting halls. A handful of smaller kitchens are then spread around the site to meet corporate hospitality demands.
“Because we are a circuit, three and a half miles all the way round, I’ve got lots of different venues and different areas and we are very much in and out of a lot of these venues, depending on what the clients have requested. For service time at the Grand Prix, for instance, we do it via my office and a radio because I have got eight of my nine kitchens operational and I physically can’t get round them all!” he reveals.
Asked what the one piece of kitchen equipment he couldn’t be without was, he replied: “Definitely a Rational oven, without a shadow of a doubt. We have just teamed up with Rational and have now got a VarioCookingCentre in place too, so we are just getting to grips with that. It has been in the kitchen for two weeks now and the fact that it can all hook up online means I can sit in the office and program it all, so the guys haven’t got to think about it too much.
“You can tell it when to stir, which I know sounds really strange but you are not losing that five minutes of someone standing there stirring it; they can get on with something else and when the beep goes they can go back and give it a stir and away they go. We are getting some great results from it.”