Now in his third year at Bath Racecourse Head Chef, Jon Williams shares his inspiration behind the new menus at Lansdown. Locally-sourced food and traditional West Country cuisine is forming the backbone of a wide-ranging and comprehensive offering designed to cater for different tastes and budgets.
“I was born and bred in Somerset, so having Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire foods is hugely important to me,” said Jon.
“I think we’re lucky to live in one of the best areas in the country for food and drink – we’ve got our cheese, our cider, good ales, and a lot of good meats around.
“We work with so many local suppliers; my fruit and veg comes from just outside Swindon, my dairy comes from just outside Bristol, our butchers are based in Bristol."
“We’ve designed the menus to fit with our suppliers which allow us to source locally and are therefore able to put a spin and modernise the food we are providing.”
It’s not just the indigenous ingredients that are a great source of pride for Chef Jon, the comprehensive offering, across the board, ensures there is something on the menu for everyone at Bath Racecourse. A busy race day sees a diverse array of people flood through the gates on Lansdown Hill, but the venue’s wide-ranging spread is there to cater to all needs and guarantee that no one goes hungry.
“Hospitality packages range from an all-you-can-eat buffet-style experience, enabling guests to sample a local twist on foods from around the world, right through to the Royal Crescent, our fine-dining restaurant on a race day, catering for 200 guests” says Jon.
We’re always trying to do things differently, creating a bespoke feel – whether that’s signature dishes, curing our own meats, or smoking our own meats. We’re trying to do as much as we can to make our offering unique and original.”
With attendance of up to 10,000, the biggest days in Bath’s racing calendar are obviously the busiest for Jon and his team. But the 33-year-old insists the planning and preparation prior to the day ensures the operation runs as smoothly as possible, allowing him to relish the opportunity to enhance the experience of thousands of racegoers.
“On a busy race day, it’s my job to make sure everything is planned two or three days beforehand. The atmosphere in the kitchen is great; there are lots of personalities in there and lots of chefs to deal with. It’s always pumped, it’s always busy and there are people everywhere.
"There’s a lot to do, a lot to get on with and it’s a challenge. But at the end of the day, it’s a nice feeling knowing you’ve fed that amount of people and that they are, hopefully, going home happy.”
Look out for the latest edition of In Bath magazine for the full interview with Jon.
Packages are selling quickly for feature racedays in 2018 so booking early is advised to avoid disappointment. Dining packages start from £49 with an early bird sale on the Good Friday all-you-can-eat banquet available for only £39 until 28 February.
More information about hospitality packages can be found here.