Preparing a meal for the family can sometimes feel a bit daunting, but imagine if you had to cook for 20,000 guests... This is the mammoth task that is facing the catering team at Silverstone as they prepare for the British Grand Prix.

While hopeful Lewis Hamilton is pulling on his gloves and helmet, some 3,000 chefs and waiting staff will be scurrying about behind the scenes chopping and seasoning for Britain.

On top of that, there'll also be 130 mobile catering units around the 3.2 mile course, serving everything from traditional fish and chips to organic burgers and even Thai food, to some of the 100,000 punters on race day.

If you're not among them, you can still join in the fun by throwing your own Grand Prix party - complete with a barbecue and a taste of the hospitality tent.


One of the original Ready Steady Cook team, Steven Saunders's forte lies more in gourmet restaurants than mass catering, but when the opportunity came up to cook for Silverstone, he jumped at the chance.

"It's the most diverse and logistically challenging event in the social calendar, because of the layout of the course," says Steven.

Silverstone itself takes up an area of 800 acres, with hospitality suites packed into all the best corners and straights of the track.

The most prestigious venue is the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) stand, which hosts the likes of former champion Damon Hill. Other celebrity race-goers have included Chris Martin, Roman Abramovitch and the Beckhams.

While some of the suites have their own kitchens - and even roof terrace barbecues - Steven creates another 6,000 lunches for individual boxes of up to 60 people from a massive central kitchen at the heart of the race course.

"Some chefs write menus around logistics," says Steven. "Whereas we write the logistics around the menu. You've got to keep the ingredients at the top of the ladder and keep it simple.

"It's about producing rosette-style service and you can't do that by having a buffet laid out on a table, you've got to inject some originality."

The personal touch is equally important for Steven and his team - from scanning the guest list and menu-testing before the event to popping their heads into each suite on the day.

"We do get some very famous people," adds Steven. "It's a sexy sport - and it's a diverse selection, from those who just want to walk around and eat from mobiles, to a higher level of hospitality. But the standard whoever the people are has got to be the same."


Besides turning up your TV and shoving a set of ear plugs in your ears, tapping into the taste of Silverstone is perhaps the best way to get the feel of the Grand Prix in your own living room.

"Try to recreate the theme of the food, which this year is very Mediterranean and would sit comfortably with the Italians, the Spanish and the French," says Steven.

"You've got a compilation of foods, lots of olives and sunblushed tomatoes, it gives you that sort of feeling of the Grand Prix, you're in that mould and it suits al fresco dining."

Steven suggests the following dish to serve up as a snack on race day:


(Serves 4)

For the crostinis:

1 French stick

1 clove garlic crushed and finely chopped

A teaspoon of olive oil

Maldon salt

For the salsa:

4 juicy ripe tomatoes

1 red onion

A little olive oil

Maldon salt

A pinch of sugar

8 slices of hand-carved Serrano ham

Slice the French bread at a slight angle about 1cm thick, drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt and spread on the chopped garlic.

Bake in a low oven at 150C until golden (about 8-10 mins).

Chop the tomatoes up and add the chopped red onion and olive oil and season with salt and the sugar. Serve in a small bowl.

Serve slices of Serrano ham with the tomato salsa and the crostinis on the side.

Invite your guests to spoon the tomato on the crostinis and twist a slice of ham on top.