F1 Racing (UK) - - PRO -

When you spend six months of the year on the road, it’s the home com­forts you crave the most: a full English break­fast or a de­cent cup of tea. One of the philoso­phies of the Wil­liams cater­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity staff is to make any­one din­ing with them – be that me­chan­ics or VIP guests – feel re­laxed and wel­come.

“We are a friendly, warm and open team and as soon as any­one walks into our mo­torhome we re­ally want them to feel like they are at home,” says Michaela Kam­phuis, Wil­liams’ hos­pi­tal­ity ser­vice de­liv­ery man­ager. “With so many peo­ple away for such a long time, it’s re­ally im­por­tant they are looked af­ter.”

Food, and nutri­tion in par­tic­u­lar, are both vi­tal as­pects of keep­ing a team func­tion­ing to the best of their abil­i­ties, and the team have to cater for 70 mem­bers of staff need­ing three meals a day. If you add guests to that tally, it’s around 1,000 meals that have to be pro­vided dur­ing a four-day grand prix event.

“We serve a lunchtime buf­fet be­tween the var­i­ous ses­sions for all the team mem­bers, but if for any rea­son the me­chan­ics and en­gi­neers are re­ally busy, we al­ways en­sure we take hot wraps, sal­ads, sand­wiches, healthy pro­tein pots and fresh fruit to the garage so they never go with­out food,” says Kam­phuis.

There is also a record of ev­ery team mem­ber and a spe­cial al­lergy sheet for soy, gluten and dairy to en­sure that if some­one has an al­lergy, then the team’s chefs can pre­pare an al­ter­na­tive. But the level of ser­vice also ex­tends to the VIP guests who at­tend the grand prix.

One of Wil­liams’ am­bas­sadors is the Miche­lin­starred chef Michael Caines, and he reg­u­larly at­tends races to pre­pare bistro tast­ing menus and spe­cial wine lists so that guests of Wil­liams can dine in style over a grand prix week­end.

“We are briefed be­fore ev­ery race in terms of who is go­ing to be there and what events are be­ing held. We have a data­base of visi­tors that we will cross-ref­er­ence, so if we know we have a re­turn­ing guest who likes green tea and honey, we go that ex­tra mile to serve that to them, be­fore they’ve even asked, to make them feel spe­cial,” says Kam­phuis. “We want to cre­ate the ul­ti­mate guest ex­pe­ri­ence and make peo­ple feel re­laxed, al­low­ing them to en­joy them­selves when they visit Wil­liams for a race week­end.”

Sun­dries such as salt, pep­per, tea and cof­fee are bought in bulk back in the UK and are then packed and sent over with the sea freight to grand prix venues, while the chefs will source as much fresh pro­duce as pos­si­ble from lo­cal su­per­mar­kets in the days lead­ing up to a race. A thou­sand meals re­quires a lot of stor­age space, and you will of­ten see chefs criss-cross­ing the pad­dock if they find them­selves mo­men­tar­ily short of an in­gre­di­ent. Pirelli can al­ways be re­lied on for olive oil and bal­sam­ico…

“En­sur­ing ev­ery­one has three meals a day can mean that we work long hours,” says Kam­phuis. “Serv­ing break­fast means be­ing at the track for 6am and we of­ten don’t fin­ish un­til 11pm. Work­ing for a grand prix team means that we work very long days.”

All are wel­come to eat at the team hos­pi­tal­ity unit: Wil­liams aim to make it feel like a home from home

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