Restaurant of the month: Silverstone Circuit Ltd
Silverstone Circuit Limited is the biggest event space between London and Birmingham and used regularly for hospitality. With different elements to the site including: The Wing - Media Cafe and Hospitality Space, Brooklands Building - Hospitality Boxes and 1st Floor Restaurant (mainly race day hospitality), Woodcote - 2 restaurants for race day hospitality, BRDC Club House - Private Members Club, Pit Stop Cafe - Public Access Diner, Coffee Shop - public access coffee shop and finally a number of Pop Up Areas perfect for a Pop up Catering Unit.
Love British Food chatted to Head Chef Dean Hoddle about his work at Silverstone and his love for British Food.
Why do you do what you do?
Being head chef at Silverstone is a diverse and unique experience. No two days or events are the same. Everyday we have challenges to overcome which we do to the best of our ability. Why do I do it? Why have the stress? Its simple really I strive to provide the best offering I can across many different styles of food and ever changing requirements with my own personal stamp on food style. This is a major task with such a big site steeped in all the motorsport history but its a challenge I relish.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There are a couple of things I enjoy most about my job firstly its creating a concept which is then followed through to the plate and secondly its find
and working with producers to get the best British ingredients I can. I like to go direct to the producer/ grower/ farmer where I can and look at my
produce from source. This way it’s not looking through a brochure of ingredients its touching, feeling, smelling the produce and that really helps
you understand what your using and give it the respect it deserves from the man hours used to produce every item.
What do you enjoy the least about your job?
Staffing! Dealing with staff is always a push but in the current climate where the chef shortage is beginning to take the pinch finding chefs is getting harder and harder.
What achievement for the restaurant are you most proud of?
The menu changes I have made at Silverstone is what I’m most proud of. Using more and more British and seasonal produce and also using / working/ championing local artisan producers. For me it’s all about the look and feel of the menu, the presentation and delivery. This with making the produce very personal just adds to the unique selling point. For instanced its not a chutney from a mass produced factory its hand crafted chutney from Steve (friars farm) our jam and preserve producer and to add to this it’s not his own range but a specially crafted chutney which we have worked together on marrying my ideas and his craft to get an exclusive produce just for Silverstone.
Do you use British Produce?
Yes I use as much British produce as much as I can and on top of this I use as much local produce as I can. I remember my first grand prix as head chef
at Silverstone watching 300 kg of cheese come in from around the country. I thought to myself we must be able to get something to add to this locally
and now 2 years on we have our own cheese board with some exclusive cheese, all from our cheese maker Gary and all from Northamptonshire. He produces
straight on the dairy farm and his cheese making kitchen is next door to the milking shed so the milk travels through a 20 meter pipe from the cow
into the cheese room. I doesn’t get better than that. We underestimate sometimes just how good British and local produce is. If you take time to look
what’s around you you will be surprised just what you find.
The quality and the passion that goes into British food is the best thing and easy to see. Our artisan baker Geoff has so much passion about his bread you can taste it with every bite. He not so long ago had a little social media rant about a potential customer who was less than happy about a loaf of cut bread he had purchased. The rant was not so much about the customer returning the produce but more to the fact that the conception of a soft white pre-cut loaf. Once he had explained why his bread had bigger air holes from the natural proving, that his cutting machine was designed to cut thicker slices which is how you eat his bread and how many man hours goes into producing each loaf lovingly. The customer doubled his order and has returned 3 time a week ever since. It’s the love and passion in their work which shines through.
Why should people buy British?
Exactly for the reason above. It’s good, its honest, its supporting local communities and you really get to see the passion and the craft skills involved in the handmade produce. Honestly I hear a lot of people say” it’s the best kept secret” but if you take the time to explore what’s on our doorstep from the family in the village selling eggs from the chickens in their garden to the craft brewer brewing his own favourite ale. Once you find these guys you begin to appreciate what they do and it just makes it taste so much more special.
What is your most popular dish?
We don’t really have a most popular dish but from our race day menus the ploughman’s crate has made it on the menu for 2 years now and will be there again next year. For me it personifies what the “best of British” is. We hand make all the elements on the ploughman’s like the scotch eggs, quiches, sausage rolls and then our artisan producers from Northamptonshire step in and enhance the crate with the cheese, bread, preserves, pickled onions and everything else you can think of on a ploughman’s. It’s a very British dish, served and one of the most prestigious sporting events in Britain and it’s solely produced with British produce and combines the best of the Northamptonshire produce I use. It’s just perfect.