The head chef at the home of British motor racing would love to see a solution to the reams of disparate information that come from using the latest internet-enabled kitchen equipment.
Dean Hoddle, who is responsible for nine kitchens at the famous Silverstone Circuit, admits it can be time-consuming for chefs to keep tabs of equipment performance when each one has its own proprietary system for generating data.
He says that if there was one thing that would make his life easier, it would be greater standardisation among isolated pieces of equipment, particularly from a HACCP perspective.
“It seems that all equipment will give you some kind of HACCP information, but it is not all uniform. Our fridge will give me a little print-out or something, but then an oven can send me a report, so it would be nice to have it altogether so that it can be formulated into one piece of software. That would really help everyone because chefs spend half their time filling out forms and taking temperature checks,” he said.
Mr Hoddle abides by some pretty rigid criteria for selecting catering equipment for the site given that it provides corporate hospitality all year-round, starting with making sure the build quality is sufficient and it is fit for purpose.
“It has got to do the job that we need it to do, but then it is also about the support for me as well. I don’t want someone to sell me a bit of kit and then disappear off and I never see them again because I might want to invest in add-ons or get accessories. I also want someone there to make sure we are getting the best out of it.
“A lot of these bits of equipment now are all software-related, so have we got the latest update? Are we using it in the right way? Is there something that has changed that we need to know about? It is about working with suppliers to make sure that we are getting that kind of support after the sale, and to be fair we are getting really good support at the moment.”
Most of Silverstone’s menu development work takes place in the main kitchen of the Wing conference facility as that is most suitably equipped in terms of infrastructure.
Mr Hoddle sees a scenario where the set-up might need to change in the not-too-distant future and that could mean getting to the point where it brings a full-time development chef on board.
“I am running 215 menus at the moment and I have written 1,500 recipe specs, so there is quite a lot going on and it is always continual. No two days are ever the same. And because of the type of client that we attract here, a lot of it becomes bespoke. So you will get your standard kind of corporate client that will come along wanting a nice buffet-style hot dish, but you also have a lot of the big racing car manufacturers and that’s a different world entirely because they all want something special and bespoke.”